Published on April 2nd, 2013 | by Clint Davis
The Sandlot 
Summary: The Sandlot is a fun, sugarcoated coming-of-age film for children of the 90's. It deviates from many of its "kids playing sports" genre followers.
PG | 101 min.
Director: David Mickey Evans | Screenplay: David Mickey Evans, Robert Gunter
Starring: Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Patrick Renna
Studio: 20th Century Fox
For people who grew up in any decade, certain songs, television shows, and movies bring back fond memories. For boys who grew up in the 90’s, a title like 1993’s The Sandlot either conjures up memories of adolescence or elicits a vaguely confused look.
This movie is one of those childhood favorites that fifteen years later, people can still quote entire blocks of dialogue. Among Sandlot enthusiasts, it’s not uncommon to hear lines like: “FOR-EV-ER. FOR-EV-ER”, “You play ball like a girl!”, or the most oft-quoted “You’re killing me, Smalls.” Hell, even non-Sandloters drop that line.
Like Stand By Me for children of the 80’s or American Graffiti for those of the 70’s, The Sandlot was a perfect companion to the growing pains felt by young Generation Y’ers. It’s also interesting to point out that all three of these particular coming-of-age flicks were set in the 1950’s-60’s. Clearly these were written by people with a nostalgia for their own childhood, people write what they know and in the case of The Sandlot, they may even romanticize things a bit.
This movie follows a young kid named Scott Smalls (Tom Guiry) who has just moved to a town near Los Angeles with his parents (Karen Allen & Denis Leary). Smalls isn’t the most outgoing kid, and would rather spend his time tinkering with an Erector Set than out meeting new friends. However, one day he joins a group of neighborhood boys in their daily baseball game at the local diamond–known as “the sandlot”. Among the kids is a loud-mouthed catcher (Patrick Renna) and a local legend named Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez (Mike Vitar) who just happens to be the best baseball player in town. As you can imagine, friendships grow as the kids play a ton of baseball together and eventually get into “the biggest pickle” of their lives upon losing a prized Babe Ruth-autographed baseball.
With these ensemble coming-of-age films, their success largely teeters on the chemistry of the cast. The Sandlot differs from many other in this genre because unlike the cast of the aforementioned movies, its cast members never really became notable Hollywood stars. With the slight exception of Patrick Renna, who played similar parts in other decade fare like Son in Law and Disney’s The Big Green. Although they never became A-listers, these guys are immediately identifiable with their roles in The Sandlot.
As I mentioned above, this movie represents an idealized version of 1962 America. No racial prejudice, overt sexism, or violence is present in the film’s characters. Among the gang is a black kid as well as a hispanic kid–this is obviously a positive thing to include in a film aimed at children but acting as if the early-60’s were simply an era of positive race-relations is a bit of revisionist’s history. That said–the statement that among kids there are no dividing lines is more likely what director David Mickey Evans was going for but anyone who’s been a kid knows that they can be the most antagonizing of all people.
The Sandlot is a movie that I, like other men my age, will pass along to my kids and gladly watch with them as they pass through boyhood. The movie is a blast to watch because it’s all about simple pleasures, friendship, and especially paying tribute to our childhood idols. That said, I’m not sure why the writers decided to have the boys worship Babe Ruth as he would have been dead before most of them were born–and since they are west coast kids, it seems like Willie Mays would have been a more-likely hero.
Also, like any nostalgic trip worth its salt, The Sandlot features some outstanding soundtrack cuts. The use of Ray Charles’s “America, The Beautiful” during a 4th of July night sequence always floored me, and anyone who’s seen this film will never be able to hear “Tequila” without wanting to chew some Big Chief and/or vomit.
The Sandlot is a fun trip to a simpler time in everyone’s life and among “kids playing sports” movies, it’s unique because the kids only play a single competitive game against another team–there’s no big championship game at the end. Instead, baseball is used as a device to get these characters together and share that most popular interest among young boys.