Plot: What’s it about?
I use to think it was just a coincidence, but now I’m sensing something much, much more. Yes, it’s a conspiracy! Why is it that every movie Rob Schneider stars in either co-stars Adam Sandler or is produced by Sandler’s production company, Happy Madison? I mean, ok…I understand that these two are both SNL vets and probably very good friends but can Rob Schneider not get a gig on his own merit? It’s sickening, actually! That aside, I’ll get off my soap box and get onto the review. “The Benchwarmers” was yet another movie about baseball, but with a certain twist to it. We’ve all seen “The Bad News Bears” and movies of that nature, but what about a movie about adults who were, for all intents and purposes, still geeks trying to make something of themselves. Bullies are everywhere, always have been and always will be. Face it, we’re going to be judged on how we look, what we wear, how good we play a sport, etc. The list is endless. What “The Benchwarmers” does is take three adults who were bullied and they stick up for the kids in the neighborhood that are currently bullied. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Yet it strangely works.
Rob Schneider plays Gus, a landscaper who is trying to start a family with his wife (Molly Sims). He and local paperboy Clark (Jon Heder – “Napolean Dynamite”), witness some kids getting bullied around on the baseball field and offer to help. Before long, they call in Richie (David Spade) from the Video Store and the three men are going to challenge the group of 9 kids for rights to the baseball field. Gus is essentially a one man team and before long it’s an all-out war. A regional tournament is going to be held and the winning team will have a brand new stadium built for them by local billionaire, Mel (Jon Loviz, essentially playing a real-life role of Artie Ziff, his recurring character on “The Simpson’s”). The three men get some advice by Reggie Jackson and as they continue to win, the tension starts to heat up. Naturally we can tell how this will most likely end, but like in most movies starring Schneider, there’s some random sub plots, most notably Howie (Nick Swardson), his agoraphobic roommate. Words can’t really even describe this guy…
I have to admit that I actually enjoyed “The Benchwarmers”, though some of the humor is a bit sophomoric, so am I! So take that. Fans of David Spade, Schneider or Jon Lovitz will be right at home here as they deliver their usual shtick. Jon Heder essentially plays his Napolean Dynamite role here again, but it seems to work. The ensemble cast does come into play (no pun intended) and if you look real close, you’ll even catch a glimpse of one Heidi Klum. The movie was directed by Dennis Dugan who also helmed “Big Daddy” and “Happy Gilmore” (both starring Sandler) and he’s right at home here. While the central focus of the movie is baseball, it does promote somewhat of a positive image about teamwork and kindness to your fellow man. Granted, it’s an odd place to give such positive reinforcements, but they’re there nonetheless.
Video: How does it look?
“The Benchwarmers” is presented in its 1.85:1 original aspect ratio and this anamorphic transfer looks great, for the most part. Nearly every scene is bright with vivid colors and a majority of the movie takes place during the day (on the baseball field, obviously). There were a few scenes in which the colors looked a bit oversaturated, but then I tell myself that this movie was most likely filmed last Summer, so that might account for the redness in the faces in some scenes. Contrast was excellent and I noticed no edge enhancement at all. This is a new to DVD movie and it shows, it’s an excellent transfer.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is fairly standard, but there’s a few times when it really shows. Surrounds come into play during key times in the movie, but they’re there mainly just for some added atmosphere. Dialogue was clean and natural and though the soundtrack is mainly that of a Dolby Surround mix, this one had some legs from time to time. Essentially it’s everything you’d expect of a teen comedy, plus a little more.
Supplements: What are the extras?
I’m not sure if the target audience would really like to sit through two commentary tracks, but at only 85 minutes, it’s not a huge investment in time. The first track is by Director Dennis Dugan (“Happy Gilmore”) as he spews some information on the shoot, the cast and working with the lead actors. The second track contains David Spade and Jon Heder and is a bit more lively. Spade and his dry sense of humor go well with someone like me and even in a commentary track, he’s pretty funny to listen to. There are four deleted scenes which don’t really add that much to the movie, the highlight of which is Reggie Jackson getting lectured by a housewife. And this leads us to the four featurettes included on the disc. The first is “Mr. October – Behind the Scenes with Reggie Jackson” and it’s just that. Some interviews with the cast and crew about Jackson and how he came to have a role in this movie. Next up is “Nerds vs. Bullies” in which the crew all tell how they were either made fun of when they were younger or just managed to stay neutral (amazing how none of them admitted to being a bully). “Play Ball” has some thoughts on baseball as America’s Pastime and how the sport is so central to our enjoyment. This is followed by “Who’s On Deck?” which is actually a montage of shots of Howie’s greatest moments throughout the movie. Odd, but yet randomly entertaining. “The Benchwarmers” won’t be for everyone but it looks and sounds good and contains just enough supplements to warrant a purchase.