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The Benchwarmers
2006 - PG-13 - 85 Mins.
Director: Dennis Dugan
Producer: Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo
Written By: Allen Covert, Nick Swardson
Starring: Rob Schneider, David Spade, Jon Heder, Jon Lovitz, Nick Swardson, Molly Sims, Amaury Nolasco
Review by: Joe Rickey
Official Site: www.sonypictures.com/movies/thebenchwarmers/
   

What a big glove you have.
This baseball comedy is juvenile to the extreme but does contain some sporadically funny bits along with a lot of material that falls as flat as an open can of Sprite that has been sitting on the counter for five hours.

Gus (Rob Schneider) has a booming landscaping business and a beautiful wife (Molly Sims) along with innate athletic ability (Yes, Schneider is the film's version of a jock). So it's at first a bit of a mystery as to why he befriends dorky paperboy Clark (Jon Heder) and video store lackey Richie (David Spade). The trio enjoy playing baseball and standing up for nerds everywhere. When the opportunity arises, they jump at the chance to participate in a baseball tournament against Little League teams as a way of hopefully showing the world that nerds deserve respect too.

They get their funding by way of nerd turned multi-billionaire Mel Schmegmer (Jon Lovitz) who has a talking car and a dining room replete with Star Wars decor and a robot butler that Rosie the Robot would undoubtedly take a liking to. Let the games begin.

It is advisable to go into 'The Benchwarmers' expecting very little but knowing what to expect nonetheless. If, on the other hand, you have only seen the poster and no other media of any kind and thus don't know what to expect you may run from the theatre in horror all the while decrying the state of modern cinema that allows such a base, childish, and otherwise puerile comedy to not only be produced but debut on over 3,000 screens nationwide.

The film's humor consists of people picking their noses and/or other parts of their body, gay stereotypes, many jokes having to do with poop and/or pee, along with countless scenes of people, mostly Jon Heder, getting hit with balls, bats, and other items. It may actually outdo 2004's 'Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story' in that department which is hard to believe considering the aforementioned Vince Vaughn film centered around a game whose point it is to hit other people with a ball. Almost in spite of itself, the film generates a fair share of laughs much like January's equally dumb 'Grandma's Boy' (also a Happy Madison production written by Allen Covert and Nick Swardson, who also costars as Spade's brother Howie and gives a hilarious performance).

What makes portions of the film work are the performances. David Spade loosens up for once as he doesn't play quite a glum persona as usual although his trademark snarky, dry wit is still present. Schneider starts out rather awkwardly in his role as the jock but gets visibly more comfortable as the film progresses. As for Heder, he plays basically the same character he did in 'Napoleon Dynamite' only more outwardly disgusting as he likes to pick his nose and eat his boogers with alarming regularity. Lovitz is a riot as Mel in limited screen time.

You can probably pretty much guess what doesn't work. The film relies so much on slapstick and bodily fluid humor that it's bound to contain its fair share of stinkers (no pun intended, honest). When the attempts at humor fall flat they fall really flat as one almost feels like laughing out of pity for the actors having to be put through such dire material. Then one realizes they willingly signed on to the picture and are getting paid millions and is fine with their situation again.

In the end, 'The Benchwarmers' is a hit and miss slapstick comedy but still a much better example of the genre than tripe like 'Scary Movie 4.'
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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