Director: Penny Marshall
Screenwriters: Kelly Candaele, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, Kim Wilson
Starring: Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Sports
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for language
Release Dates: 7/1/92 (Theatres); 6/4/02 (DVD); 4/16/12 (Streaming)
Runtime: 2h 8min
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
Where to Watch: Rent/Buy
Honestly, A League of Their Own one of those movies I can watch over and over and never get sick of it. It never fails to entertain and to be worthy of 2+ hours’ worth of my time. For a film that was released nearly 30 years ago, it still holds up very well; it’s still funny, well-directed and acted, and deeply feminist. Sure, some of the material hasn’t aged properly, such as the fact that the movie itself seems to dislike women who aren’t stereotypically pretty and thin, like the character portrayed by Geena Davis. There are too many jokes at the expense of women who are deemed to be unattractive, although the one supposedly homely female baseball player on the team [Rockford Peaches] actually gets [spoiler alert] a happy ending.
The primary relationship at the center of the film is the one between the two sisters, portrayed by Davis and Lori Petty. This relationship is there in place of a real romance, as Davis’ character is already married (to Bill Pullman), and the film is all the better for this choice. Davis carries the film quite well, at a time when she was a career peak (she would co-star in Thelma & Louise shortly after this). Petty can come across as whiny and infantile at times, but that’s the character. I used to find her mannerism annoying, but every time I watch the movie, this bothers me less and less.
Of course, this movie’s greatest asset is Tom Hanks at his most realistically frustrated, uttering one of the most famous lines of all time (to Bitty Schram, who went on to co-star on Monk), “There’s no crying in baseball!” His character is incredibly unlikable (and a mess) at first, but he grows on you, just as coaching women’s baseball grows on him. His role here is mostly comedic, but that’s fine; and, remember: he got his start in comedy (on the show Bosom Buddies and various ’80s comedic flicks, like Splash). There are also some funny, charming supporting performances from Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna, who are basically playing themselves and play off each other really well. O’Donnell is the tomboy to Madonna’s flirty, seductive character — so, yes, it’s over the top, but that’s essentially her.
A League of Their Own is directed by the late Penny Marshall, whose [also late] brother Gary has a bit of a scenery-chewing near-cameo. The story is based on true events regarding the women’s professional baseball league that began during WWII and lasted for several years, but is not based on factual people. The script not only points out the rampant misogyny at the time, but practically beats you over the head with it — which is mostly okay, as it often leads to laughs.