Plot: What’s it about?
“There’s no crying in baseball!”
1992 was one of my favorite years. I won’t go into detail about why, but we all have years where things all came together. Don’t read that as my other years were bad, but I just have a fondness for that particular year. And it was a good year for films as well. Some seminal favorites for me with A Few Good Men, Unforgiven and, yes, even a little movie about girls playing baseball. C’mon, if you’re reading this, you’ve seen it as well. It’s got allure and you know it. Sporting an all-star cast (pun fully intended), this was the beginning of what made Tom Hanks a superstar. Following this he won his first of two Oscars for Philadelphia, then swept the world off its feet with Forrest Gump. Couple that with Geena Davis coming off the success of Thelma & Louise (another favorite of mine) and Madonna, who’s book Sex, kept her in the limelight amid its controversy. Suffice it to say that the cast was top notch, but we had to wonder if the movie would work. As time has told us, it did.
As World War II continues to escalate, the draft in America forces countless young men to leave behind their homes. As these men defend the world’s freedoms, they leave behind farms, business offices, and even careers in professional sports. The world of baseball is hit hard, with a lot of the players drafted to serve. This worries the men who run the sport as it could force them to close down the leagues. A temporary issue on the surface, but when the men return and the nation recovers, the sport could be lost. So a solution is needed, some method to maintain baseball’s place in peoples’ minds, without the need for the drafted players. The answer is the All American Girls Baseball League, which is formed by several owners of professional clubs. Putting together a ragtag team is no easy feat and it’s up to Ira Lowenstein (David Strathairn) to ensure it happens. Be it a natural in Dottie (Geena Davis) and her sister (Lori Petty), a foul-mouthed outfielder in Mae (Madonna) or the tomboyish Marla (Anna Cavanagh) – these are the women of the All American Girls Baseball League. Batter up!
There’s something about baseball that Hollywood loves, and with good reason. If, for some reason, you’ve never seen this film it’s one to check out. Seeing Tom Hanks as an alcoholic (yet comical) manager of a women’s baseball team is reason enough. Yes, it’s a bit sappy and sentimental (especially the last 15 minutes) but it’s also about good, old-fashioned fun. The cast works well with one another and the chemistry between Hanks and Davis is what helps drive the movie. The film was a success commercially as well, raking in over $100 million dollars and this was in an age where only a dozen or so films a year did this. Though it’s seen several incarnations on DVD and now Blu-ray, A League of Their Own still continues to garner new fans.
Video: How’s it look?
As fond as I am of the film, I’m a bit disappointed with this “new” edition. This appears to be the exact same transfer used for the 20th anniversary edition and while it didn’t look “bad” by any means, new 4K re-masters are becoming the standard. Having said that, the 2.40:1 AVC HD image looks good, but it’s also a bit dingy in a few places, particularly some of the outdoor scenes. Detail, though sharp, could have been improved and the film seems to have a fine layer of grain. This is to be expected given the age. Contrast seems strong, I noticed a few inconsistencies in the black levels, but nothing to get too worked up about. It’s a good, but not great looking transfer.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Likewise, the included DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 mix has a few moments, but I seem to recall this being a 4.0 mix on an early DVD. I wonder what happened to those missing 1.1 channels? Or maybe I’m mistaken. At any rate, the sound mix has a few good moments, but this is a pretty front-heavy mix from beginning to end. It sounds a tad bit dated, and I doubt this is a candidate for a new Atmos mix, but should please fans. Vocals are strong, particularly Hank’s gravelly voice. Again, good, but not great.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Bentonville, Baseball & The Enduring Legacy of A League of Their Own – The only new addition to this edition is this retrospective look back at the film (with a conspicuously absent Marshall). Cast and crew remember the movie as well as some of the events that inspire it.
- Audio Commentary – This is the same commentary that has appeared on previous editions and while it’s billed as a “director and cast” track which includes Penny Marshall, Lori Petty, Megan Cavanagh, and Tracy Reiner; it’s really a Penny Marshall track and others are allowed to get a word or two in edgewise. It’s informative, though if you’ve watched the other supplements, it’s a bit redundant. Still, all things considered, if you’re a fan of this film this is a nice addition to have included.
- Deleted Scenes – Fifteen total that run just over a half hour. Each can be played with or without an introduction from Marshall and she claims that these came from a 4 hour long cut of the film. That’s longer than most baseball games, mind you.
- Music Video (SD, 5 min) – “This Used to be My Playground” by Madonna.
- Nine Memorable Innings – a nine-part documentary (get it?) that’s been present on previous versions before. It can be played in individual parts (innings) or all together. Running nearly an hour, it encompasses most everything that you want or need to know about the film. It’s informative, though the text-based supplements popping up get a rather annoying.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
A League of Their Own was one of the very first DVD’s on the market way back in 1997 when this movie was only five years old. Time has been good to the film and it’s help up very well. Tom Hanks’ line of “there’s no crying in baseball” has become synonymous with it and has reached nearly iconic status on its own. And, yes, it’s hard to believe that a quarter of a century has passed since this first came out. This new edition adds a new supplement, but leaves everything else intact. I feel that if you were to have this movie, you’d already have it in your collection and not wait for this version. If, however, you don’t have it, this is certainly the version to get. But an upgrade isn’t recommended.