My family is a huge baseball family, so growing up we would watch “The Sandlot” all the time. I have seen it so many times that I can recite just about every line. In 1993, David Mickey Evans and Robert Gunter wrote the film, and David Mickey Evans directed it. There are three main actors in this film, out of the nine that comprise the baseball team; Tom Guiry plays Scotty Smalls, Mike Vitar plays Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez, and Patrick Renna plays Hamilton “Ham” Porter.
“The Sandlot” takes place in the summer of 1962, when the main character, Scotty Smalls, moves to a new town right before the start of sixth grade. A young baseball prodigy (Rodriguez) and his rowdy team, take Smalls under their wing, which results in many adventures involving the boys. While most of the adventures included something baseball related, like when they played a game against their arch-rivals that was filled with lot of trash talking. They also had some non-baseball related trips. For example, they went to the pool and all swooned over Wendy Peffercorn, had a camp out with s’mores and stories about “The Beast,” and all went to the carnival, which ended in them throwing up after they tried dip (chewing/dipping tobacco) for the first time. When Smalls hits his stepfather’s signed Babe Ruth baseball over the fence into the junkyard with “The Beast,” the boys discover just how valuable it is and create an elaborate scheme to retrieve it. A mission that requires getting past “The Beast,” a terrifying guard dog owned by angry junkman, Mr. Mertle.
Right from the start of this film, I was rooting for Smalls to make friends with the boys that play at the Sandlot and to learn about baseball. Smalls is a very smart kid, but not very athletic and clearly does not know much about the sport of baseball. In the beginning everyone except Benny Rodriguez makes fun of him and has doubts that he would bring any value to their team. If it was not for Benny Rodriguez, Smalls would have never made friends or gotten to learn about the sport of baseball. By the end of the film, the whole team accepts Smalls, and he genuinely feels like he is one of them.
I chose to watch and review this particular film because it envelops me when I watch it. I feel like I am in the film and going on all the team’s adventures with them. The narration of the film is in the first-person point-of-view of Scotty Smalls. This is what makes the audience feel inside the film and what also made me root for Smalls throughout the film. There are some scenes that are filmed with the camera directly facing the actor as the actor is asking a question, this made me feel like they are asking me the question. “The Sandlot” sounds like the lives of the boys. The phrases the boys use is exactly what you would expect from kids their age, which is one of the funniest aspects of the film. For example, when the sandlot team is arguing with their rivals, Philips says “You bob for apples in the toilet, and you like it” to which Ham Porter hollers back “You play ball like a girl!” This is one of the worst things a baseball player can say to another. The whole argument is hysterical and filled with comebacks that I could 100% hear my brother saying while he plays.
The costumes in this film emphasize that the Sandlot team is informal and just a bunch of boys who want to play baseball. Unlike their rival team, the Sandlot team does not wear uniforms, they just wear jeans and t-shirts. In the beginning of the film, when the team tells Smalls about “The Beast,” they describe him as being about 3x the size he actually is.
Even the first time we see part of “The Beast” he looks massive and scary, and in the scene, there is a bunch of fog and suspenseful music that comes on before the initial introduction of this ‘scary, killing machine’ of a dog. The special effects that the cinematographers use to portray “The Beast” the first few times we see him are done very well. They evoke fear within the audience in order to make them scared of “The Beast” like the boys. However, when the boys finally conquer “The Beast” and the audience sees him, you just see that he is a normal size-big dog (a Mastiff), and he even licks Smalls on the face.
The camera movement in this film made it easy to tell which character or object I was supposed to be watching. When a player hit a homerun, the cinematographer uses pullback shots in order to catch the reactions of the players as well as the flight of the ball over the fence. The use of different camera angles, aids in how the audience perceives the situation. The director uses a bird’s eye perspective camera angle in a lot of the scenes involving “The Beast” and the junkyard where he lives. Low angle shots were crucial throughout the film because they gave the audience a different perspective. I noticed the low angle shot in the scene that showed the boys at the carnival riding the rides. While the boys were on a rollercoaster the camera would shoot from a little bit lower to make them seem higher up.
I thought this film was hysterical and is worth a watch, even if you do not care about the sport of baseball. “The Sandlot” is worth watching not only because it is funny but because it tells the story of a group of boys who develop an amazing friendship. The team comradery that is developed by the boys reminds me of my childhood sports teams. For being produced in 1993, the special effects are well-done and add comedic relief rather than, take anything away from the film. Watching this film as an adult evoked a sense of nostalgia within myself and makes me miss my childhood teammates.