Back in the early 90's, a trend of movies came along that spoke to us growing kids. They weren't completely innocent, but fine for the whole family, having just enough edge to them. There were a bunch of titles, including 'The Mighty Ducks', 'Little Giants', 'Rookie of the Year', 'The Big Green', the list goes on.
A lot of these movies would relate to us all pretty directly, as they showed certain aspects of our childhood, along with some problems we have to face when going through that tough time called puberty. They all did a pretty decent job at speaking to us, and we all had at least one that we could watch time and time again, without it getting old. My title was, and still is 1993's 'The Sandlot'.
As a kid who was never really into sports, only playing them because I had to, I was never good at any of it. I had a short time doing well at basketball for a few years, but that was in my youth. My second best sport (or at least the one I enjoyed a bit) was baseball. Again, I was never very good at it, but it was a sport that felt fun to me. So, our main character, Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) is pretty relatable to me.
Scotty, his mother (Karen Allen) and stepfather, Bill (Denis Leary) move to a new town. Scotty tends to be a bit of a recluse, and has almost no time to make new friends before a new school year begins. He makes the extra effort by walking onto "The Sandlot" - a place where a group of kids comes to play ball and have fun without keeping score. However, his first impression isn't exactly a good one.
Scotty's new neighbour, and leader of this kids gang, Benny Rodriguez (Mike Vitar), invites him out to try again. He's empathetic towards Scotty, and helps walk him through how to play, since his step dad doesn't really take the time to. Eventually, they all become friends, and one day lose a ball over the back fence. It's one of many they've lost, but they have to educate Scotty on why it's gone forever. Long story short - a gigantic monster dog lives over there, and would easily kill any trespassers.
The kids spend the remainder of the summer playing ball, making memories, and playing on the audience's nostalgia. Ultimately, not thinking anything of it, Smalls one day brings a new ball to play with, autographed by Babe Ruth, himself. No one realizes this until it's too late, though, and the last portion of the film is all about getting that ball back from the clutches of "The Beast" (what they call that killer dog).
The film also features Patrick Rena ("Ham"), Chauncey Leopardi ("Squints"), Marty York ("Yeah-Yeah"), Brandon Quintin Adams (Kenny DeNunez) , Grant Gelt (Bertram Grover Weeks), Shane Obedzinski (Tommy "Repeat" Thomas), and Victor DiMattia (Timmy Thomas). All of them went on to star in other roles, and are still going, though their roles are a little more under the radar these days. I daresay, this might be the highlight of just about all of their careers - at least it's the only place I can honestly remember seeing any of these guys, save for Patrick Rena, who was in a few other things I remember.
Being that it takes place in the 60's, one might consider the ideas here a bit dated before taking a look. But honestly, the themes in this movie are timeless. It speaks to anyone who has fond memories of their childhood friends. One day, it all ends, and you don't even know it, and this is a movie that will make you remember a simpler time in your life. It's a beautifully done story about kids just being kids, and it fits how I remember acting as a kid. As I mentioned before, there's just enough edge here to make it family friendly, but relatable to the kids watching it all the same. I give it the highest of recommendations for anyone just looking for something simple.