Written By Kelly Stifora
Arliss Howard narrates this piece of child-oriented Americana (in the vein of Stand By Me and The Wonder Years) about a group of 1962 youngsters, their obsession with baseball, and the gigantic dog that lives over the left field fence.
Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) is the new kid in town. Regarded as a geek by the boys who hang out at the local sand lot playing scratch baseball for his inability to throw or catch, Scotty wants nothing more than for his inattentive step dad (…enis Leary) to teach him America’s game so that he can become part of the gang.
Although it’s almost as predictable as Ellen Degeneres’ next cancellation, The Sandlot has its heart in the right place, and Director David Mickey Evans pulls off some inventive scenes while the boys try a series of overly complicated schemes to retrieve an incredibly important ball from the Beast, an ominous dog that lives in an ominous yard behind left field.
You wouldn’t expect the audio on such an unassuming kid’s flick to be such a treat. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is put to good use in a fireworks scene that truly does surround. The dialogue is right out front where it belongs, and outstanding sound effects contribute greatly to the Beast’s… well, beastliness.
Also worth noting is the crystal clear music, which, in addition to a few stomach churning Randy Newman songs, features tongue-in-cheek uses of such early 60s classics as Green Onions (by Booker T and the MGs), which plays while the gang from the field on the other side of town roll up threateningly on their bikes, and Tequila (by The Revels) which provides a background to the boys getting sick on a carnival ride following their first attempt at chewing tobacco.
A couple of minor audio glitches (a pop and a squeal) may have been specific to the disc I was watching, and were accompanied by slight pauses in the video.
Enough care went into the shooting of The Sandlot to make it worth watching for the cinematography alone. A segment that mocks 50s era mutation flicks while giving the Beast some background looks completely genuine, and the rest of the film makes early-60s American suburbia seem as pristine, as clean, and as beautiful as a freshly restored Norman Rockwell painting.
Nothing is lost in 20th Century Fox’s DVD transfer. Both pan and scan and 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen versions are included, and this reviewer is willing to bet that The Sandlot never looked this good on a big screen; every bead of sweat on these scratchy kids’ faces is rendered without a hint of grain or bleed.
There is nothing here worth drawing attention to. Included are a theatrical trailer, ten T.V. spots, French audio, English and Spanish subtitles, and a promotional featurette that proves even at a young age, Hollywood actors possess a mind boggling ability to talk about their characters in a manner so pretentious it belies the true, fun, nature of the film.
Give this movie a rent, and you’ll probably find yourself enjoying it as much as your kids will, especially if you’re a sucker for nostalgia, or for deep, rich photography. Save yourself some time by skipping the special features.
Special Features List
- 10 TV Spots
- Promotional Featurette