Coming to Bluray from writer/director and film narrator David Mickey Evans and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment comes one of the most amazing stories that has become iconic with THE SANDLOT.
It is 1962, a time of pretty much being outdoors from sun up till sundown in the San Fernando Valley. It is also time for America’s favorite pastime – baseball! Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) is new to the neighborhood and looking to find others his age to hang out with. His Mom (Karen Allen) hopes that he is able to get outside and make it happen.
At the town’s sandlot, Smalls makes the 9th player on the team and is welcomed. The problem is that Smalls doesn’t know how to play baseball. One bad play makes him feel horrible and it doesn’t help that Benny “the jet” Rodriguez (Mike Vitar) breaks out into laughter. Really wanting to learn, Benny takes the time to teach him and it pays off as Smalls is back on the team. The roster also includes Ham Porter (Patrick Renna), Squints Palledorous (Chauncey Leopardi), Yeah-Yeah McClennan (Marty York), Timmy (Victor Di Mattia), Kenny Denunez (Brandon Adams) and Repeat Timmons (Shane Obedzinski).
The one thing the team has to watch out for is ‘The Beast’ and his owner Mr. Mertle (James Earl Jones). When a ball ends up in the Beasts yard, the gang stops Smalls from trying to get it back. Not understanding why they are afraid of the Beast, Smalls gets the down low on the man eating dog that has no problem downing a human being. They basically tell him that once a ball goes into the yard, it is never seen again.
The lazy sunny days brings the group to the local pool where Squints continues his crush on lifeguard Wendy Peffercorn (Marley Shelton). The boys know and tease him a little about it and Wendy isn’t thrilled to be stared at by Squints. That’s when he gets the brilliant idea to do the one thing the other guys can’t – get Wendy to put her lips on his. The guys have a new found respect for their friend!
Back on the field, when Benny gets a little to hard on their ball, they have no choice but to find another. Smalls says he can get one from home belonging to step-dad Bill (Denis Leary) and it ends up with the Beast. What makes things even worse is that the ball is very special to his step-father and the gang has a week to get it back! The gang tries but nothing seems to work because the Beast is on to them.
It would take a dream and sage advice from Babe Ruth to find a way to get the ball back. PF Flyers, the most awesome shoes of the day, were suppose to bring speed to any kid wearing them. Thinking he has finally beat the blocks monster, the Beast snaps his chain sending Benny running for his life through pretty much every part of town only to end up back at the sandlot. That’s where a piece of fence falls on the creature as Benny and Smalls start to see the Beast differently.
They also finally talk to Mr. Mertle and discover that what they thought was true about the Beast, was actually not. They explain to Mr. Mertle about the ball and a change takes place that helps them understand a little more about the world around them and learns what true friendship truly is.
That’s what happens when friendship and baseball come together!
Guiry as Smalls is the outward feeling of the group. Wanting to make friends, he learns that he needs to relax and accept everything that comes his way. He can thank Vitar’s Benny for everything he came to experience that summer and the obvious friendship that would follow him into adulthood. Vitar is the inward feeling of the group knowing that Smalls needed a teaching friend.
Leopardi as Squint is a hero beyond heroes! Watching his young self come up with the plan to get his lips on Wendy Peffercorn is nothing short of brilliant. He is the kid I’d probably have hung out with back in the day. Renna as Ham is the red headed kid who has the amazing ability to shut out the team who tries to take down the Sandlot and yet be horrified at the snort of the Beast. York, DiMattia, Adams and Obedzinski round out the boys of summer and without them, the chase between Benny and the Beast wouldn’t have been as funny or the contraptions they came up with to get Smalls Babe Ruth ball back wouldn’t have been as genius.
Leary as Bill is the uncomfortable step-dad who is still trying to find that relationship with Scotty and baseball would turn out to be the key. Allen as Mom just wants her son to be happy and Allen has the look of just that, a Mom of the times who just wants everyone to be happy.
James Earl Jones as Mr. Mertle is larger than life, but then so is Hercules. When the boys discover they were all wrong about the situation, it is a man who also loves the game of baseball that would show them that baseball has no age limits or boundaries. Then again, James Earl Jones is a iconic and timeless actor who I still adore.
Other cast include Karen Allen as Mrs. Smalls and Art LaFleur as The Babe.
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THE SANDLOT Bluray comes with some amazing Special Features including a Featurette, Theatrical Trailer and Television Spots. The best part is the 10 Exclusive Topps Baseball Cards featuring Smalls and the gang as well as an All-New Booklet and Poster that is so very cool to have. My son saw the Topps Baseball Cards and is thrilled that each of the characters he has come to remember fondly is on Topps cards!
THE SANDLOT Bluray: 25th Anniversary contains amazing treats and surprises for everyone. The Special Features include the Featurette, Theatrical Trailer and original television spots. What’s even more amazing are the set of 10 Exclusive Topps Baseball Cards featuring Scotty, Benny and the rest of the ragtag roster. There is also an all-new booklet that contains behind-the-scenes photos from the film director’s personal archives and a full-color poster.
With the opening day of baseball upon us, THE SANDLOT is a film filled with the reason baseball has become a game that excites millions and brings us all together for America’s greatest pastime. Baseball film reach down deep to that place inside us that holds fond memories. For me it is the memory of being with my Grandfather at Wrigley field to watch his beloved Cubs team play. The sights and sounds of that magical place is so ingrained into me that when I close my eyes I can quite easily remember the warm peanuts, the amazing hotdogs and the cold pop.
THE SANDLOT is exactly like that – memories of a sweeter time and an amazing time where being outside with your buddies was the end all be all of our existence. Leaving first thing in the morning and being home by the time the street lights came on, there were no cell phones, computers, internet or anything else distracting. Instead it was talking with our friends, doing things we hoped our parents never found out about, climbing on things we shouldn’t, getting dirty and running around with our mitts dangling from our pant belts, a ball is someone’s pocket and if a bat wasn’t handy then a strong stick would do just as well.
“You’re killin’ me Smalls” is an iconic phrase that is used constantly and, of course, I use it myself – on almost anyone who has just pushed me to my limits. That it just the tip of the bat of reasons that THE SANDLOT has become a staple on the list of baseball films and also a film that has ingrained itself on our hearts.
It is amazing that it has been 25 years since THE SANDLOT first hit the big screen and now that it is on Bluray and Digital – it will be the perfect addition to any baseball library. Seriously, who doesn’t love these boys of summer!
In the end – a piece of paradise a half block wide and a whole summer long!