Welcome to Beloved Coming-of-Age Week: Day 4. Interesting, how most of the beloved coming-of-age films came out in the 90s, huh? You’re killing me, smalls! You’re killing me. Here, we have another film that plenty of people have heard of but I have never seen, The Sandlot. Never seeing this film confused me, since I was actually a pretty big fan of baseball as a kid. That being said, let’s chat about the film.
“Scotty Smalls moves to a new neighborhood with his mom and stepdad, and wants to learn to play baseball. The neighborhood baseball guru Rodriquez takes Smalls under his wing, and soon he’s part of the local baseball buddies. They fall into adventures involving baseball, treehouse sleep-ins, the desirous lifeguard at the local pool, the snooty rival ball team, and the travelling fair. Beyond the fence at the back of the sandlot menaces a legendary ball-eating dog called The Beast, and the kids inevitably must deal with him.” (IMDb)
I’ll let you in on the one pet peeves I had for this film. The beginning of the film clearly introduced us to the beast dog across the yard, and then they ignore it for most of the film before returning to it as the obvious main plot. I understand the need for adventure in these types of films, but try to keep it intact, would you? In the end, the whole cute lifeguard, rival ball team, and fair bits are actually useless scenes, right? They don’t actually add much to the plot, and when it finally returns to the beast, you’re a little confused as to what’s going on there. While they could all be imagining the worst with the dog, they can’t all have connected hallucinations about how big the dog is, especially the oldest kid…but they do, and it doesn’t make too much sense when you think about it.
But pet peeves are just that – pet peeves. We can’t focus on them as a whole when we consider the rest of the film, which actually did have a few great moments. So, let’s go ahead and break the thing down and talk about that.
PEOPLE SCORE – 9/10
Acting – 1|Characters – 2|Casting – 2|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 2
First up, we have a nearly perfect score in the people category. The acting itself wasn’t the best, it was just okay. Family movies aren’t always required to have that, so it’s understandable. The characters were all pretty diverse and memorable, and because they all worked perfectly together, I don’t think I could really cast anyone else in the roles. They all just…worked. As far as importance goes, each character really played a very specific part of what was going on, and thanks to their diversity, they were able to highlight their strengths in that area.
WRITING SCORE – 9/10
Dialogue – 2|Balanced – 1|Story – 2|Originality – 2|Interesting – 2
The writing score also nearly got a perfect score, the only thing I subtracted points from was the balance of the story. I feel like because it had so many random side-stories, it started to get a little convoluted, which was unnecessary. It clearly had a main story, it just took a break from it for a while. The dialogue was memorable here and there, including the highly loved “You’re killing me, Smalls!” line. The story held a lot of strong self-confidence values, it was highly original, and it was definitely interesting.
BTS SCORE – 5/10
Visuals – 1|Directing – 1|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 2| Music – 0
Okay, now we’re onto the behind-the-scenes score, which mostly got the worst score here, and that’s not because this was a horrible category, it’s because nothing stood out. The visuals were typical from a 90s family film, both the directing and editing were pretty typical for these types of movies. That being said, I would consider this very much as-advertised, but I wasn’t always a fan of the audio or music – since they sometimes randomly used cartoon sound effects – like when the ball is flying through the air, which was just silly and took me out of it.
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 9/10
Introduction- 2|Inciting Incident – 1|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 2
It’s back to the nearly perfect score with the narrative arc. So, the introduction obviously made perfect sense, doing what it needed to do. The inciting incident, however, didn’t. I’m not entirely sure what the inciting incident was, but I would guess that it is when they learned bout the beast dog across the way, but there was no “no turning back” moment because the rest of the movie mostly had nothing to do with it. That brings us to the obstacles, and there were plenty of obstacles to go around for both plot-heavy moments and otherwise. The climax worked really well, and there is definitely a return to the new norm moment.
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 6/10
Rewatchability – 2|Fun – 2|Impulse/Buy – 1|Impulse/Talk – 0|Sucks Audience In – 1
How entertaining was it? Well, take it this way, it’s entertaining enough. Nothing blew my mind, but I was entertained while watching. I consider it pretty rewatchable, I had fun watching it, and I wouldn’t mind owning it…but I wouldn’t buy it. I also have no real impulse to talk about it with anyone. That being said, it has the ability to suck you in, if only a few scenes here and there – and many of them will be memorable for years to come.
TOTAL SPECIAL – 50/50
Coming-of-Age – 10|Comedy – 10|Aging – 10|Family – 10|Halfway Decent – 10
Finally, what about the specialty questions that I wrote before seeing the film? Well, first of all, how was its coming-of-age? This is yet another coming-of-age film that I think mostly does its job perfectly well. It does have a main plot, regardless of getting random, it does eventually get back to what mattered. How was the comedy? Well, it was a warm family comedy, so the comedy was light but funny. It’s over two decades old, how does it age? Pretty well, honestly, it still works for a modern audience for the most part. How family friendly is it? Oh, it’s perfectly fine as a family film, one of the better films that work for all ages. Finally, is it halfway decent? Absolutely.