Review by Michael Jacobson
Guiry, Mike Vitar, Patrick Renna, Chauncey Leopoldi, Brandon Quintin Adams,
Grant Gelt, Shane Obedzinski, Victor DiMattia, Karen Allen, Denis Leary
Director: David Mickey Evans
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1, Pan & Scan 1.33:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: Featurette, Trailer, TV Spots
Length: 101 Minutes
Release Date: January 29, 2002
"Hey, do you want a s'more?"
"Some more what?"
"No, no...do you want a
"I haven't had anything
yet...so how can I have some more of nothing?"
"You're killing me, Smalls."
The Sandlot falls into the category of one of those
movies I absolutely treasure. Many
people got the appeal; some didn't...I'd wager the ones who didn't never
played baseball as a kid.
This plucky group of boys reminds me of my younger days
every time I see them. My friends
and I didn't have a sandlot ourselves, but we played ball in the neighborhood
anywhere we could, using anything that would stand still (or move slowly) as a
base, sharing gloves, bats, balls, whatever.
Nine innings? Don't make
us laugh...we never counted 'em. The
game went on until somebody's parents called him home, and if we could still
make it work, we kept on going even then.
That this film gets so much of that spirit right is a real
testament to both the appealing young stars and to director/co-writer David
Mickey Evans. Every kid who grew up
playing ball will recognize the merciless teasing, the friendly insults, the
wild imagination that made every game into the finale of the World Series, and
more. It's like an image frozen
in time, where you might even believe for a second that kids never have to grow
up, that times don't change, and that the game will go on forever.
When Scott Smalls (Guiry) moves to a new California town
just two weeks before the end of his fifth grade year, prospects for
making friends seems bleak. He
tries to hang out with the local sandlot kids, but can't play ball to save his
life. At first rejected, the others
warm up to him when their leader Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez (Vitar) takes him
under wing and shows him the ropes. From
then on, it's an anything-goes summer for Scott and his new pals.
The laughs in this movie are frequent and big, and never
get old to me. Though I know every
frame of the film by heart, I'm still floored by Squints' (Leopoldi) move on
the impossibly gorgeous lifeguard at the community pool. The "stupidest thing we would ever do" scene has a climax
you'll see coming a mile away, but waiting for it is only slightly less funny
than finally seeing it!
And of course, there's The Beast. The neighborhood junkyard dog who lurks behind the sandlot
and represents the epitome of every ball playing kid's nightmare.
We only get glimpses of him here and there; exaggerated childhood
imagination fills in the details for us as the picture is painted of a
monstrous, flesh eating brute who MAY have killed a kid a long time ago when the
poor sap crossed the fence looking for his lost ball.
Scott inadvertently sets the sandlot boys off on the
adventure of a lifetime when he accidentally knocks his stepfather's (Leary)
baseball into The Beast's yard. The
problem? It just happened to be a
ball personally autographed by Babe Ruth! With
time running out until his stepdad returns from a business trip, will the team
find enough courage, strength, and brains to outwit and outlast The Beast and
return the prized ball to where it belongs?
That is the crux of the plot, but this isn't really a
movie you can reduce to one simple story. It's
a picture filled with magical moments that play out like memories.
The way two teams from opposite sides of the tracks taunt each other is
true and priceless. One line I'll
never forget: "If my dog were as
ugly as you, I'd shave his butt and tell him to walk backwards."
Ah, sweet youth!
It's not quite a perfect movie, but darn near...some of
The Beast scenes are a little too over-the-top for my taste, and one chase
sequence near the end didn't have to be as long as it did. But it gets so many things about childhood friendship exactly
right, in an age when most little kids on screen are just overly sophisticated
smaller versions of grown-ups, saying and doing things no kid ever would.
Here, some bits may be exaggerated, but they're never out of the realm
of true childhood...or at least, true childhood imagination.
Simply stated, I love these kids...every last one of them.
They remind me of my own youthful buddies.
Every time I want to take that magical stroll down memory lane, The
Sandlot is just about always the ticket I use to take me there.
Kudos to Fox for an absolutely excellent anamorphic
transfer! I've owned a couple of
copies of this movie on VHS before, and I was pleasantly amazed by the
noticeable improvements. Coloring
is natural looking and beautiful throughout, as the picture is filled with the
aura of summer sunshine and a nostalgic appearance of a time gone by.
Images are sharp and clear throughout...there is no fading, bleeding, or
lack of detail from close to deep. The
print is in excellent shape, too, and no compression artifacts like grain or
shimmer or over-enhancement spoil any of the postcard scenes.
There is a pan & scan version included here, too, but trust me...in a
movie where there are nine stars, you need to see it in widescreen.
The 5.1 audio mix is an equally pleasant surprise...to tell
the truth, I wasn't expecting much from it, but I was mistaken.
The front and rear channels open up in many sequences (the games, the
pool, the Fourth of July) for an enveloping and ambient listening experience
that puts you right in the middle of the action.
And the .1 channel kicks into overdrive to accentuate the presence of The
Beast...a nice touch! All in all,
an extremely well mixed and potent listen.
There is a trailer and some TV spots, and a 5 minute
production featurette that is fairly useless.