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Blu-ray Review: A League of Their Own: 25th Anniversary Edition

May 2, 2017

By John Corrado

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the 1992 classic A League of Their Own is inspired by the true story of The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was founded by Philip K. Wrigley in 1943 as a way to keep Major League Baseball alive during World War II, when all the best male players were sent off to fight.

The film’s version of events finds fictional chocolate bar magnate Walter Harvey (Garry Marshall) funding the women’s baseball league, and sending out a recruiter (Jon Lovitz) to find players.  Enter Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis), the catcher for a local softball team in rural Oregon, and her younger sister Kit (Lori Petty) who also plays on the team.

Dottie is the one the recruiter really wants, but she is initially content to just stay on the family dairy farm and wait for her husband (Bill Pullman) to return from war, and it’s Kit who persuades her to take up the offer, so she ends up being brought along as part of the deal.  Despite being coached by drunk former baseball star Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks), who initially shows little desire to be there aside from getting money for alcohol, their team the Rockford Peaches finds great success, which leads to jealousy between the two sisters, as Kit is desperate to break out from under Dottie’s shadow.

Directed by Penny Marshall, reuniting with star Tom Hanks following their first collaboration on Big four years earlier, which remains a childhood favourite of mine, A League of Their Own is a feel good film that still holds up quite well.  The film was a resounding box office success when it was released, even giving way to a short-lived TV series, and was also quietly revolutionary for its time for featuring a female director and predominantly female cast.

Geena Davis does a fine job of carrying the film, coming off her Oscar-nominated role as one half of the title duo in Thelma & Louse a year earlier, and Lori Petty is also good playing her sister.  Tom Hanks does excellent work, displaying his effortless ability for big comedy before branching out into more dramatic roles.  With a large cast of characters, the film also includes memorable supporting work from Madonna as the most outgoing and promiscuous member of the league, Rosie O’Donnell as her brash best friend, and Bitty Schram as the shy girl who finds self-confidence through being on the team.

The film does a good job of handling its moments of broader comedy and more archetypal characters with nicely fleshed out narrative arcs to deliver a multitude of delightful moments along the way, and the bookending scenes of the players in their senior years are undeniably bittersweet.  There is also a deeper level to the story about these women being caught between the roles that were expected of them at the time as wives and mothers, and wanting to carve out their own identities on the baseball diamond, and it’s a theme that Penny Marshall allows to play a big role in her film.

Topped off with a fine soundtrack of old standards, A League of Their Own is a film that’s sentimental in all the best ways, and there is a wistful sort of nostalgia to it that has perhaps only grown over the years since it was first released, leaving us feeling reminiscent of times gone by.  For fans of the film who are looking to upgrade, this 25th anniversary edition provides a fine opportunity to do so, and also the perfect chance for anyone who hasn’t seen this classic baseball film yet to finally check it out.

The Blu-ray also includes the new anniversary featurette Bentonville, Baseball & the Enduring Legacy of A League of Their Own, which touches on how the film has connected to audiences over the years and the film festival that Genna Davis founded to help put a spotlight on women in film, commentary with the director and cast, fifteen deleted scenes, the production documentary Nine Memorable Innings, and the music video for Madonna’s closing credits song “This Used to Be My Playground.”

A League of Their Own is a Sony Pictures Home Entertainment release.  It’s 128 minutes and rated PG.

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