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review added: 5/17/00



A League of Their Own
1992 (1997) - Columbia TriStar

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

A League of Their Own Film Rating: A-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/B-/F

Specs and Features

127 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu screens, scene access (51 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), Spanish and French (DD 2.0 mono), subtitles: Spanish and Korean, Closed Captioned

"Baseball is what gets inside you - it’s what lights you up. You can’t deny that."

During the high point of American involvement in World War II, more men than ever were signing up or being drafted to fight the Axis powers overseas. Some of these men included professional baseball players - so many, in fact, that major league ball had to be shut down. That's the setting for this film. Realizing how much Americans miss the sport, candy mogul Walter Harvey (Garry Marshall) and other major league team owners found the All-American Girls Baseball League. With the help of a deliciously cynical talent scout named Ernie Capadino (Jon Lovitz), the AAGBL fills out its ranks with housewives, farm hands and even exotic dancers, all excited to show the world that girls can play baseball. Of course, if you have a ball club, you need a manager. Current managers of pro clubs coach the new AAGBL teams, but Mr. Harvey decides to give a washed-up, retired ex-ballplayer a second chance. Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) used to be a star for Harvey’s team until alcohol abuse ruined his career. While not particularly happy about the new job ("Girls can’t play baseball!"), he needs the money.

At first, the public does not seem to be embracing the AAGBL and the future looks bleak for the league... that is until a very talented catcher named Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) decides to kick it up a notch and really impress the media. Her keen talent for the game inspires the other players to give it their all, and baseball fans start to take notice. But will our heroines be able to sustain the league and show Mr. Harvey and the rest of the owners that they have what it takes?

A League of Their Own is a joy to watch. All of the actresses here (and there are plenty) look like they had a great time making this film, and it really shows on screen. The sense of camaraderie between the cast seems to go beyond the script, and that makes a big difference between a truly fun comedy and just another movie. On the male side of things, Tom Hanks offers a wonderful performance as Jimmy Dugan, with comedic sarcasm and surliness that is sure to get more than a few laughs. As Hanks’ character progresses into the story, his surliness turns into enthusiasm for the league, and he becomes what I can only describe as a Girl Scout troop master. His fish-out-of-water, father-figure performance is quite amusing to watch. And I don’t think anyone will disagree when I say that Ernie Capadino is the most memorable character in the line-up. Jon Lovitz’s portrayal of the talent scout is chock full of moxie and cynical one-liners. Whenever this film comes up in a discussion, an Ernie Capadino quote is never far behind. "I’m just going home to grab a shower and a shave, give the wife a little pickle-tickle and them I’m on my way."

An unfortunate criticism I have about A League of Their Own is that the story drags in places. A great example of what could (and probably should) have been snipped from the film, is the girls’ secret outing to a seedy bar called The Suds Bucket (chapters 19 and 20). These scenes are only mildly amusing, and really disrupt the pace of the film.

The quality of the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen picture on this disc is pretty good. Outdoor scenes are bright and clear, with a nice level of texture and detail. Colors are rich and accurate, especially the green of the grass. There is a noticeable amount of compression artifacting, and the few indoor sequences in the movie are a little soft and hazy, but overall, the picture quality is nice. The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is okay, but could have been a little more impressive. The sound field is narrow, with not much spatiality, however scenes during games in larger parks with big crowds sound a bit more dimensional. Voices occasionally are harsh, but the musical score is smooth and nicely integrated into the mix. This is a soundtrack that could definitely have benefited from a fresh 5.1 mix.

A League of Their Own was one of Columbia’s early releases back in 1997, and as such is 100% featureless. A theatrical trailer is not even included, and the menu screens are barely film-themed. Columbia has plans to revisit many of their early titles and add supplemental material, and I urge them to consider A League of Their Own for such treatment.

If you’re in the mood for a fun movie for the entire family, look no further than A League of Their Own. The story is entertaining and the characters will provide plenty of belly laughs. The video quality of the DVD is nice, but the audio and lack of extras is enough to make you shout, "Foul ball!" Still, this disc is definitely worth a rent. Just remember one thing... there’s no crying in baseball!

Greg Suarez
gregsuarez@thedigitalbits.com




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