The Sandlot (1994)

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Released:  Friday, July 29, 1994  
Length:  101 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre: Comedy
Certificate: PG


Synopsis

It's the early 1960s and fifth-grader Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) has just moved into town with his folks (Karen Allen and Denis Leary). Kids call him a dork—he can't even throw a baseball! But that changes when the leader of the neighborhood gang recruits him to play on the nearby sandlot field. It's the beginning of a magical summer of baseball, wild adventures, first kisses, and fearsome confrontations with the dreaded Beast and its owner (James Earl Jones) who live behind the left field fence. Soon nine boys have become best friends, Scotty is part of a team, and their leader has become a local legend in this hilarious and warmhearted comedy.

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The Sandlot: 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review


There have been some great movies released in the last 25 years and several of them include a baseball theme.  As "America's pastime" it is the quintessential vehicle with which to tell any number of stories including a coming of age tale set during the 1960's.  On the surface, The Sandlot seems to be merely about some preteen boys hanging out in the summer playing a fun game but truly there is so much more going on and it is really a heartwarming tale about courage and friendship. Originally released in 1993, Fox Home Entertainment has offered a special twenty-fifth-anniversary edition, out now on Blu-ray.

Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry; Mystic River) is a fifth grader who moves to the San Fernando Valley in the summer of 1962. As the new kid in town, he wants to fit in and make friends. He finds a group of local boys who have a baseball team that plays at the local sandlot (hence the name).  Scotty is asked to join them but there is one small problem (no pun intended) - he can't play baseball.  Desperate to fit in, he gets his stepfather (Denis Leary; Rescue Me) to teach him to play and soon joins the other 8 boys.

One day, when their last ball goes over the outfield fence, Smalls is ready to hop over and retrieve it, that is until the other boys tell him about "The Beast" – a huge English Mastiff who, as legend has it, eats baseballs and people… bones and all.  That seems to be the end of their game until one day Smalls "borrows" his stepfather's special ball – signed by Babe Ruth.  When that two goes over the fence the boys only have a few days to get it back from the beast.  After a desperate rescue, the boys learn that the beast a.k.a. Hercules isn't so mean and that his owner, Mr. Mertle, used to play baseball with Babe Ruth himself.  He gives the boys a different ball to replace the signed one Hercules destroyed.  The rest of the summer goes smoothly as Hercules becomes the unofficial mascot of the team.

Guiry is excellent as the young boy trying to fit in.  He is complemented by Mike Vitar (D3: The Mighty Ducks) who plays Smalls' best friend Benny.  The two have a great camaraderie that really comes across on screen.  The other boys are merely ok but the adults are all terrific including Leary, James Earl Jones (Field of Dreams) as Mr. Mertle and Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark) as Small's Mom.

The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p High Definition video quality and while there isn't a great range of color the earth tones are certainly warm, making the picture inviting.  The rendering is clean with little noise.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is lossless and dialogue is clear.  While there isn't much ambient noise, what is there can be heard well enough and the soundtrack is sharp.  The twenty-fifth-anniversary edition Blu-ray offers some great extras including a 5-minute making-of featurette, 7 TV Spots, Theatrical trailer, 25th Anniversary Trading Cards featuring each of the players, the Sandlot Poster, Collectible Booklet and a Digital HD copy of the film.

A cult classic, The Sandlot is a funny, feel-good movie that reminds us of a simpler time both in the country and our own lives. These boys offer hope and optimism and good, old-fashioned fun and the movie pulls us in and gets us invested early on making the viewer want to stay until the very end. 

This movie is a must for the baseball fan in your home.

Grade: B

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