In 1993, the world was set on fire by one backyard baseball movie. And that, was The Sandlot. It was funny, heartwarming and told a story of youth that we can all relate to. Thematically the film is less about sports and more about life but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s bust into the SBS Film Vault for a quick game before the streetlights turn on and we have to go inside for dinner.
Our narrator (also the writer and director) takes us back to the summer of 1962 where the young version of himself, called Scotty Smalls, first meets the Sandlot crew and his life is changed forever. There is Benny the superstar, Yeah-yeah, Timmy, Repeat, Squints, Ham, Kenny, and Bertram.
This cast is stacked. Like the original dream team. The actor who plays Benny also stars in D2: The Mighty Ducks and D3: The Mighty Ducks. Also in D2 is Brandon Quintin Adams, who plays Kenny. He is also in the original The Mighty Ducks and one of my favs, The People Under the Stairs. Ham is played by Patrick Reena who was also cast in The Big Green, another kid’s sports flick. Plus it has Dennis Leary in the only role I like him in other than Demolition Man. Also, Smalls’ mom is Karen Allen, who you may remember from such small films as Animal House and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Newbie Smalls, takes a Babe Ruth signed ball from his stepdad (Leary) and brings to the Sandlot for their daily game. The ball gets hit over the fence before any of the other guys know what they are playing with. But you can’t just go over there and get the ball, because behind the fence lives: THE BEAST. A monstrous junkyard dog that kills anything that goes over that wall. Now, Smalls and team must do the unthinkable and recover the ball, no matter what it takes.
– On a super hot day, Squints, jumps off the deep end of the city pool forcing smoking hot lifeguard, Wendy Peffercorn, to save him. Mid CPR, we learn it was all a plan to get some lip-on-lip action with Wendy. Classic. And kind of rapey.
– Ham teaches Smalls how to make his first s’more. First you take the graham, stick the chocolate on the graham, then you roast the mallow. When the mallow’s flaming, you stick it on the chocolate. Then you cover it with the other end. Then (and I’d say most importantly) you scarf.
– PF Flyers. AKA, the dopest shoes in the galaxy. Literally makes you run faster and jump higher. This flick was way ahead of it’s time. It even had a shoe tie-in. That’s clever.
– The epic chase between Benny and the Beast in the third act. It’s like it’s own episode of Looney Tunes. It’s filled with visual jokes and dramatic setups. It’s almost Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.
– James Earl Jones shows up at the end. That’s right, Darth Vader and Field of Dreams makes an appearance in the last reel. The kids discover that the mean old man with the killer dog is really just blind Mr Mertle and his old hound, Hercules. Not scary at all. On top of that, he knows everything about baseball and helps Smalls replace his Ruth ball with one signed by a the whole 1927 Murder’s Row Yankees, including Ruth.
Memorable lines, great characters and a solid cast make The Sandlot a classic. It has that awesome quality where the story is for kids but it plays to the adults as well. And above all, it captures that feeling of youth and makes you want to get outside and throw the ball around. It’s a movie I’ll always remember for-ever-er.
You’re killing me Smalls.