The Sandlot directed by David Evans is a summer coming of age story set in the summer of 1962 where a little boy named Scotty Smalls and his family moves to a new town and develops friendships with the unofficial neighborhood baseball team when he is needed to step in as a fill in one day. The most important main characters include Tom Guiry as Scotty Smalls, Mike Vitar as Benny The Jet Rodriguez, Patrick Renna as Hamilton Ham Porter, Chauncey Leopardi as Michael Squints Palledorous, Marty York as Alan Yeah-Yeah McClennan, Brandon Adams as Kenny DeNunez. With a budget of seven million dollars bringing in $32,416,586 from the box office and often voted in various online poles as the best baseball movie ever made, this movie had an abundance of success.
The success brought to this movie was largely related to its bildungsroman tone and relatability of the story line to the audience. Even as an eight-year-old girl when I had first watched this movie I was able to relate as many a child living in a rural part of northern Colorado where many of my summers as a child consisted of cook outs and gatherings with both the neighborhood families and their kids. Many people watching were able to look back and reminisce on the days of their childhood summers similarly. There are events that occur in the story line such as Squints fake drowning to get a kiss from the lifeguard he had a crush on or throwing up after riding a carnival ride after chewing tobacco for the first time that adds a comedic feature to the movie. The comedic and relatable pieces of the movie make it that much more desirable to watch.
Another key piece of information that not many people know is that the director, David Evans, wrote the story line alongside Robert Gunter with events from his childhood in mind. He had moved to a tougher neighborhood as a kid with his brother where they would often be subject to getting beat up and his brother ended up retrieving a ball for the neighborhood baseball team out of a yard where there was known to be a violent dog and Evans brother was torn up badly by the dog. He was able to tone down the violence from the true events that inspired the story in order to make it accessible to a wider audience. But key aspects such as The Beast which was the dog in the movie that the whole team was afraid of and caused them to get pretty creative in retrieving the valuable Babe Ruth signed ball that Smalls had stolen from his step father to lend to the team for practice. Evans has stated that he made it more of a hero type story in the movie and was successful in doing so differently with different characters. Benny The Jet Rodriguez takes Smalls under his wings and eventually grows up to play for the MLB LA Dodgers team and Smalls was the new kid in town and was able to make friendships with his teammates that would last a long time. Evans childhood was key to the storyline and the cast did a great job overall carrying out their roles in the movie.
The members of the cast who were a part of the baseball team in the movie won the Outstanding Youth Ensemble in a Motion Picture award for their performance. The casts performance in this piece stands out because there isnt a time during the movie where the viewer questions their acting skills. The acting can be a little cheesy and overdone at moments, but those moments are acceptable for this type of movie as it adds to the relatability and coming of age aspect. Evans childhood moments portrayed in the movie are done well through Smalls character and the narration throughout the movie of Smalls only adds to the fact that the movie is from his point of view and aids in illuminating the hint of autobiographical tone that Evans adds to it.
I see this film as successful even though movie critics like Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of six out of ten and imdb.com gives it a score of seven point eight out of ten. It is a widely liked movie that is one of only a few very successful sports geared movies alongside Field of Dreams, The Blind Side, and all of the Rocky movies. Although it may not contain as heart wrenching of topics as those movies it is put next to them because of director David Evans ability to make it relatable and make people reminisce back on their own childhood. A great movie makes the audience think and feel something for the characters and The Sandlot is one that does both exceptionally in my book.