(director/writer: David M. Evans; screenwriter: Robert Gunter; cinematographer: Anthony B. Richmond; editor: Michael A. Stevenson; music: David Newman; cast: Tom Guiry (Scotty Smalls), Mike Vitar (Benjamin Franklin Rodriquez), Patrick Renna (Hamilton “Ham” Porter), Art Le Fleur (The Babe), James Earl Jones (Mr. Mertle), Karen Allen (Mom), Dennis Leary (Bill), Chauncey Leopardi (Michael “Squints” Palledorous), Marty York (Alan “Yeah Yeah” Mclennan), Brandon Quinton Adams (Kenny DeNunnez), Shane Obedzinski (Tommy ‘Repeat’ Timmons), Victor DiMattia (Timmy Timmons), Marlee Shelton (Wendy), David M. Evans (Narrator); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Dale De La Torre, William S. Gilmore; 20th Century Fox; 1993)
“This is a fraudulent baseball film that’s more cartoonish than real.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
David M. Evans in his debut feature film awkwardly directs and co-writes with Robert Gunther this corny and cliched kids’ baseball pic. It’s a coming of age film, with the kids acting as if they were the Little Rascals–trying for laughs when playing the game they love.
It tells the story of 11-year-old Scotty (Tom Guiry), the new kid in the suburban California neighborhood, who joins an adolescent sandlot team in the summer of 1962 and out of necessity becomes their ninth player.
The nine players are a ragtag cross-section of American diversity. They include a mouthy black kid (Brandon Adams), a chubby redheaded kid (Patrick Renna), a nerd (Grant Gelt), the nervy bespectacled (Chauncey Leopardi) and the Puerto Rican team leader Benny (Mike Vitar).
Scotty is an intellectual who can’t play the game and has never heard of Babe Ruth. Seven of his team-mates dis him by saying “he throws like a girl.” But Benny, the team leader, a superior athlete and a nice guy, mentors him.
The film’s highlight scene is when the team needs a ball and Scotty takes one signed by Babe Ruth from the trophy case of his new stepfather (Denis Leary). During the game the ball is hit over the fence and into a junk yard guarded by a menacing Mastiff nick-named the Beast. It comes a question of who will retrieve it to save Scotty’s life from his stepdad.
In one gross-out scene, which is supposed to be funny, the kids chew tobacco and take the rough whirlybird ride in the amusement park and become nauseous.
It gets real schlocky when it has Babe (Art LaFleur) pop up in a dream sequence to advise Scotty ‘to have heart.’
It has James Earl Jones, the Black actor, play Scotty’s neighbor, a now blind former teammate of Babe Ruth. Problem is baseball wasn’t integrated until 1947 and the Babe couldn’t have been his teammate then because he was dead.
This is a fraudulent baseball film that’s more cartoonish than real.
It also has an unnecessary and grating narration by Scotty as an adult (David M. Evans).
REVIEWED ON 8/30/2023 GRADE: C-