“You’re killin’ me, Smalls.” That phrase echoes in memories of many people who grew up in the 1990s. It is a quote from one of cinema history’s greatest sports comedies. That comedy of course is 1993’s The Sandlot now celebrating its 20th anniversary on dazzling Blu-ray. All the fun, laughter and excitement can be experienced again and again this time in crystal-clear high definition.
For those who aren’t familiar with the film, it takes place in a California suburb during the summer of 1962 and revolves around Scott “Scotty” Smalls. Played by Tom Guiry (Mystic River), Smalls is a young boy who has recently moved to the neighborhood with his mother and stepfather. While there, he befriends a group of other young boys who play baseball in an abandoned lot named, you guessed it: “The Sandlot”. All is well until they hit a baseball into a nearby backyard where a very large and very intimidating dog resides.
The Sandlot is a modern day classic. It is a coming-of-age story with a great script and fun performances. The cast of children is fantastic, featuring a wide array of personalities. Each boy has a shining moment in the film, especially the character of Squints played by Chauncey Leopardi (Casper) who has a dream-esque moment with an attractive female lifeguard.
The real heart of the film comes from the budding friendship between Smalls and the leader of “The Sandlot”, Benny played by Mike Vitar (The Mighty Ducks films). Together, these two form an awesome bromance, not only on the field but off it. Their friendship is one of the strongest aspects of the film and is truly, truly memorable.
Though the film is dominated by scenes featuring kids, there are some decent performances by the adult set as well. Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark) plays Smalls’ warm and comforting mother. Denis Leary (Rescue Me) gives a distant and somewhat awkward performance as Smalls’ stepfather and James Earl Jones (Field of Dreams) gives a truly great performance as a local neighbor.
Sports comedies were very popular in the early-to-mid 90s. Movies about pre-teen underdogs definitely defined the era. The Sandlot is one of the better sports films because it featured two much desired elements: heart and humor. If a sports film lacked these two qualities, it was doomed to fail. Luckily for audiences of this time, they were treated to these two wonderful key ingredients, for The Sandlot possesses them in just the right amounts.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, The Sandlot doesn’t appear to show any signs of age. The picture and sound quality are still top notch but what really stands the test of time are the performances and the positive message of the film. It really is a shame that sports movies today or even movies in general have such a lovely message and charming performances. It seems that once the 21st century arrived, sweetness and innocence left screenwriters’ minds.
The Sandlot is one of the greatest child sports movies ever. There isn’t any profanity or extreme violence. There is humor and heart, two of society’s simplest and most endearing qualities. Laughter and smiles are what movies should strive to draw out from its audiences and The Sandlot does just that.
The scenes where the boys of “The Sandlot” attempt to get their ball back are really great. Their creativity and drive to get the ball back prove to the world that no matter how old you are: where there’s a will, there’s a way. That is basically the message of the film. 20 years later, these boys are still causing mischief, playing baseball and trying to find imaginative ways to make-out with lifeguards all through the magic of Blu-ray.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
Unfortunately, the bonus features for The Sandlot: 20th Anniversary are pretty lackluster. There is a featurette, a trailer and lastly, some TV spots.