Directed by: David Mickey Evans
Written by: David Mickey Evans & Robert Gunter
Starring: Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Patrick Renna, Chauncey Leopardi, Marley Shelton, Marty York
Baseball, for many years, has stood as America’s pastime for many reasons we don’t need to go into but one of them comes from how much it rests in the fabric of the American youth for many decades. It came with a sense of magic and grassroots, which The Sandlot captures so eloquently as it dives into the nostalgia of the sport and how it can create everlasting bonds for young kids.
Moving to the San Fernando Valley, Scott Smalls (Tom Guiry) needs to make new friends as summer starts. As he heads to the local baseball park he meets a group of boys who love to gather to play the sport led by Benny Rodriguez (Mike Vitar). As he joins them, he embarks on a summer he will never forget.
Baseball and nostalgia pretty much go hand-in-hand as a sport always looking back to the forefathers with reverence. It certainly does not help with its viability moving forward but allows for a distinct warmness when thinking about the long summer days spent baking in the sun and playing baseball with friends. This idea certainly exists for a specific population of individuals based on their upbringing but seeing how it coincides with mine, it certainly left an impressionable mark when first watching this when I matched the age of these kids but now also as an adult. In a way, you can view The Sandlot as the visual amalgamation of those cringey Facebook posts of older folks harping on the good ol’ days when they would be kicked out of the house and told to go play and not come back until it got dark. Yeah, you’ve seen those when they decry the modern way of growing up as if the previous generation did not say the same about them. It symbolizes a distinct lived experience by American youth of a specific time.
This feature marks a time when one’s biggest worries lay in whether or not you’d strike out in the game and nothing larger, bringing a sense of comfort. Even when the plot begins to crumble, it all comes back to the energy and feeling this feature crafts and does so impressively. A sense of simplicity and humbleness resonates throughout this feature where the enjoyment of the game and connection with fellow kids does not come from having the best equipment but rather a grassy area you can turn into a makeshift baseball field. It does not come down to having everything you need but making do with what you have and just having fun. Much of youth sports on a competitive level has lost this sense of humbleness, which his film looks back at with love and adoration.
With this narrative following children, it comes as no surprise how much of the story exists on lore and mythologizing on half-truths and childlike wonder. This appears in its most obvious form when it comes to The Beast, a dog on the other side of Sandlot. A place where all baseballs go to die and get lost with no one daring to go over and try to retrieve it because the one kid who tried met their end. Surely something making no sense, whatsoever, but it shows how these stories can manifest into these kids fearing a large dog and making it out to be some gargantuan monster to drive terror into the heart of others. The film does a great job building up The Beast in all its glory making for the big moment of the film where we get a look at the dog and it all plays out in the way you would expect.
Childish hijinks and nothing but fun, The Sandlot marks as a callback to youth, the minimal worries you had, and the simple things you could enjoy. It did not take much to entertain and in this movie, it just came down to a ball, some gloves, and a bat. Elements of the film certainly have not aged the best but it all harkens back to this distinct time in the lives of young folks when they believed everything and enjoyed the simpler things in life. Through all of its warts, this feature does an impeccable job of creating a feeling and with it being as warm as this one, it makes for a wonderful viewing experience.