HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: A League of Their Own: 25th Anniversary Edition
HTS Overall Score:78
Baseball was once the very defining sport of America. It was OUR sport, the very heart and pulse of the nation during decades and decades of time where the most common “date” was to take your girl (or boy) out to a baseball game. It was the sport that helped distract us from the great world wars, and it was the sport that still continues to dominate the landscape (although football has pretty much caught up to the venerable bat and ball) to this day. One of the greatest tragedies of World War II (and I ) was the fact that it took so many great ball players away from their sport. Ok, I really do kid, coming from a family of marines and army brats going back into WWI I do not intentionally make light of the losses we suffered. HOWEVER, the soldiers were not the only people who had a tough time. Mothers, daughters, underage sons all were terrified of their relatives fighting brutal and bloody war the likes the world had never seen. Moral was at an all time low and our sports were usually the thing that kept our minds off of needless worrying. Well, with most of the physically athletic men all gone there was a time when Women not only became Rosie the Riveter or WACS, but also stepped into traditionally male oriented roles as entertainers and athletes. “A League of Their Own” was 1992’s smash hit about a fictional group of women who stepped up to save the then teetering “Chicago Cubs” team from being shut down completely after the men had all but disappeared.
The film begins in 1943 when the MLB is about to be shut down because of the war. There are very few players left and the ones that are left were never the cream of the crop. However, no one wanted Baseball to end, even if it was only until the war was over and the Cubs owner Walter Harvey (Garry Marshall, yes THE Garry Marshall) decides to do what the rest of the nation is doing when things are getting a bit thing, ask the women of the nation to step in and lend a helping hand. Ira Lowenstein (David Straithairn) is put in charge to make sure the MLB is kept profitable, but stumbles out of the gate when he puts Ernie Capadino (Jon Lovitz) in charge of choosing the women. Ernie is much more focused on making sure that the women are easy on the eyes and “look” the part of the “hot athlete” more than he is about choosing people with talent. This is obvious when he lets the only good talent that came through there without a second thought in favor of the leggy blondes.
Ernie finds his dream girl in the form of Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis), a girl with the legs, the looks, the spunk, and the talent to match. The only thing is that Dottie won’t come without her sister Kit (Lori Petty) and Ernie is up a creek with nothing to swim back on. Finally the misogynistic man decides to let her come in with Kit and soon there is a host of other more talented women at her behest. The feisty Doris (Rosie O’Donnell), a former Miss Georgia (Freddie Simpson), “All the Way Mae” (Madonna) and a host of other girls that will form the core team known as “The Rockford Peaches”.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=95698[/img]However, this isn’t just a movie about women getting what’s due to them. It’s a true sports movie that just has women in it. Hard hitting manager Jimmy Dugan (who was pretty crazy in real life too, played by Tom Hanks here) is not exactly thrilled at his position. Like the rest of the “women’s league”, he knew full well that this was being treated as a product rather than an actual game or sport. He through his career away on booze and was only hired to give the audience something to cheer about when he came out to announce the games, so the old drunk lets Dottie take on the managerial roles and sits on the sidelines to sulk. As time progresses Jimmy starts to see the true heart of the women. These aren’t just giggly girls “playing” at his precious game, they’re true athletes who are putting their heart and soul into it. Slowly coming out of his shell Jimmy begins to BECOME the manager he was just playing at and soon the girls are shooting up the ranks like a hot potato as the drunken has been and the female newbies start to take the sport by storm.
Sports movies can be really hit or miss for me. Some are really great and inspiring like “Rudy”, and others just be rather mediocre (especially high school sports movies). I originally poo-poo’d “A League of Their Own” when it came out in the early 90s and into about 2001 (I was roped into it by an old girlfriend) because it looked like just another Geena Davis/Madonna movie without much substance. My rabid baseball fanatic girlfriend at the time nearly dumped me (slightly sarcastic there) when she heard I had never seen it and promptly pulled out her old DVD. Lo and behold I found out that the movie really WAS quite a fantastic story. It’s heartwarming, funny and lacks much of the stupid melodrama that permeates much of the sports film industry. There are some flaws with the center act and Geena Davis still can’t act her way out of a paper bag back then (she matured a lot more as she got older as an actress), but “A League of Their Own” is fun sports flick that doesn’t take itself too seriously and just has FUN with the genre.
Rated PG for language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=95706[/img]This 25th edition Blu-ray release of “A League of Their Own” shares the exact same good looking encode from the 20th anniversary edition Blu-ray that was released a few years back. The film begins with a flat and pasty look, but soon expands into a brightly colored and well detailed look when the film jumps back up to the 1940s. Reds play a prominent part in the film and there is an ever so slightly ruddy look to skin tones as well as well saturated team colors that just pop off the screen. Blacks are well defined and show good shadow delineation with minimal crush even in the darkest scenes. There some mild softness to the encode, but nothing too wild as there is more than enough fine detail to go around.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=95714[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a worthy upgrade from my old DVD that I have lying around (although it is ALSO a replica of the 5.1 track on the 20th anniversary edition Blu-ray as well) and sounds fantastic in full lossless surround. It’s a very front heavy track that relies mainly on dialog, but there are plenty of times where the baseball effects and music of the score light up the surround channels with great aplomb. The crack of the bat or the roar of the crowd add some impressive weight on the low end of the spectrum and there are some good opportunities to heave some directional shifts as people yell out form the stands.
• NEW - "Bentonville, Baseball & The Enduring Legacy of A League of Their Own"
• 15 deleted scenes
• Nine-part documentary featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers
• Madonna's "This Used To Be My Playground" music video
• Filmmaker commentary
• Theatrical trailer
“A League of Their Own” was an early 90s blast, and still is one of my go to “baseball” movies when I want sheer popcorn fun. Geena Davis was at the height of her career and Madonna was judiciously positioning herself in movies for maximum coverage. The real question is, “Is it worth an upgrade”? Well, let me put it this way. If you have not gotten the film just yet on Blu-ray this is the one to get, but it’s not by a whole lot. The audio and video are both the same as the original 20th anniversary edition and there is only ONE single extra to differentiate itself form the last edition as well (unless you have to have the slipcover). If you’re upgrading I would personally pass. The new extra is kind of cool, but nothing that’s going to make you want to get rid of your perfectly good 20th anniversary set and buy this one. Still a highly recommended movie though.
Starring: Geena Davis, Madonna, Tom Hanks
Directed by: Penny Marshall
Written by: Kim Wilson, Kelly Candaele
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish DD 2.0, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai Mono
Runtime: 128 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 18th, 2017
Buy A League of Their Own: 25th Anniversary Edition On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Great Watch
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