Friday Flicks: The Sandlot
By Paula Minell
The offseason can be tough on baseball fans. Why not get your baseball fix through the Silver Screen? All offseason long, check out “Friday Flicks” at lunchtime for a baseball movie review. Want to suggest a movie for review? Comment below with the title.
Last week, I reviewed a date night movie idea for you. This week’s film is a childhood classic, but don’t mistake it for a just-for-kids movie.
For those of us who are about as old as the Dome, The Sandlot (1993) was a movie we grew up with, and it is a movie we continue to love. Set in the early 1960s, the story begins when Scotty Smalls moves to a new town just as summer vacation is beginning. Unlike most boys after fifth grade, Scotty’s summer looms lonely, long, and boring. He has no friends or siblings, is more egghead than athlete, and his relationship with his new stepfather is unestablished and uncomfortable.
When Scotty’s mom pushes him out of the house to go make friends, a task easier said than done for the average preteen, he grabs his toy baseball glove and an awkward hat before venturing down to the neighborhood sandlot. His most fervent hope is to unobtrusively tag along with the neighborhood boys who play there each day. Ringleader Benny Rodriguez takes Scotty under his wing, and the other boys accept Scotty as the ninth guy on the unofficial “team”.
The rest of the movie is a nostalgic experience of life as a boy in the ’60s, an experience that generally avoids the temptation to become too cliché or “cheesy”. Most of the movie happens without adult supervision. In a way that would never happen today, the boys handle conflict, first love, and peer pressure while learning lifelong lessons and entertaining the audience.
Oh, and they get in the biggest “pickle” of their lives.
Through Scotty’s attempts to fit in with the group, they lose his stepfather’s prized baseball that was signed by Babe Ruth. Well, “lose” isn’t the right word. They know exactly where the ball is, but the ball is guarded by “The Beast”, an intimidating guard dog rumored to have eaten a boy who once tried to retrieve his own homerun ball. The boys use hilarious and innovative methods to try to retrieve it, and their escapades culminate in an encounter they’ll never forget.
Is it a hit? I call it a homerun: While I know my own nostalgia influences that decision, I will still insist it’s a movie you cannot help but love. From a baseball standpoint, it reflects a true love of the game. The awkward and hilarious experiences of these eleven-year-old boys resonate with the audience and make it a movie you’ll want to watch at least annually.
Come back at lunchtime next Friday for a review of an ’80s classic staring Robert Redford.