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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Benchwarmers
The Benchwarmers
Sony Pictures // PG-13 // July 25, 2006
List Price: $28.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted July 14, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

The Benchwarmers is a slapstick comedy about three men who standup for the unspoken youth of America and challenge a bunch of bully little leaguers in a game of America's favorite pastime, baseball. Directed by Dennis Dugan and produced by Adam Sandler, The Benchwarmers stars well-known feature film actors David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Jon Heder, and has a supporting cast of Jon Lovitz, Reggie Jackson, Tim Meadows, Nick Swardson, andCraig Kilborn. When The Benchwarmers was in theaters, it was not loved by film reviewers. The reviews were bad across the board. However, the movie still ran for seven weeks and grossed 57.6 million dollars before being pulled. I saw The Benchwarmers when it first was released in theaters and I found the movie to be a lot of fun. The story was over-the-top and unbelievable, but in a good sort of way.

Having had the chance to watch movie again, my feelings for it are not nearly as high. I remember laughing a lot when I first saw the film, but after seeing it again, I did not laugh nearly as much. I can see why a lot of film reviewers trashed it. The Benchwarmers has a weak storyline that attempts to get laughs from a myriad of piss and fart jokes complimented with over-the-top performances, midget jokes, penis humor, homosexual innuendos, too much Star Wars fanfare, titty twisters, and other ridiculous things. Regardless, I still enjoyed the movie and I think if you enjoy hearty (or even over-the-top) slapstick comedy, The Benchwarmers should be worth renting.

The story, as mentioned, is absolutely absurd. It is about three grown men (I use the term men loosely) who become unsung heroes standing up for nerds around the world by facing bullies of all shapes and sizes. Our three heroes in this story are Gus (Rob Schneider), a landscaper with a past he is ashamed of, Clark (Jon Heder), an overgrown paperboy who lives with his mother and eats his boogers and bugs, and Richie (David Spade), a clerk at video rental store Video Spot who lives with his agoraphobic brother Howie (Nick Swardson).

In the opening of the movie, Gus and Clark witness a group of bully little leaguers mistreating a young nerd on the local baseball field. The young nerd happens to be the son of an eccentric billionaire Mel (Jon Lovitz). Gus responds by chasing away the bullies. While on the field, Gus reminisces to Clark about how much fun baseball is and he convinces Clark to get Richie and join him to hit some balls on the field. While they are on the field, the little leaguers return with a vengeance. Gus challenges them to a scrimmage for control of the field. Gus destroys the little leaguers in pitching (throws a no hitter) and batting (hits homerun after homerun).

What the three men did not realize is that some of the youthful nerds were watching and by word of mouth, Gus, Clark, and Richie's fame spread. Later that day, Gus, Clark, and Riche are approached by Mel. Mel asks them to participate in "Mel's Tournament of Little Baseballers and Three Older Guys". The idea is that they will represent all of the nerds and children who have been bullied and kept out of team sports like baseball and gain respect and give inspiration by defeating all of the local little league teams. The other key parts to the story include Clark and Richie's development as ballplayers (includes Reggie Jackson as a personal trainer), Gus overcoming his shameful past, and Howie facing his agoraphobia.

In the end, The Benchwarmers proves to be a fun movie with a happy ending. Of course, it is not a movie for everyone. There are enough flaws in its limited plotline to turn people away. The concept is unbelievable and ridiculous, and will probably leave many rolling their eyes in disgust. In addition, the comedy is not anything special. It is the same piss and fart jokes found in other slapstick comedies of a similar nature. The starring actors also play roles they have had in other films, dorky weirdos whose absurd comments, actions, and reactions are used to get cheap laughs. And sometimes the character's over-the-top performances can get a little annoying.

Still, with all of those weaknesses, I enjoyed the movie. I loved seeing Rob Schneider, David Spade, Jon Heder, and Jon Lovitz together and I felt their over-the-top characters worked out pretty good. The jokes, while common in other movies of this genre, were still funny enough to keep your attention. In the end, The Benchwarmers makes for an average slapstick comedy with a fairly good cast. If you haven't seen it yet, you might want to consider renting it.

The DVD

Video:
The video is given in 1.85:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen color. The picture quality for this video transfer is pretty good. There are some evident compression artifacts and portions during high motion scenes with noticeable ghosting. In general the dark and light colors are represented well.

Audio:
The audio is presented in English 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound. There are also dubbed 5.1 tracks in French and Portuguese, as well as dubbed Dolby surround in Spanish and Thai. The audio sounds sharp and all dialogue is easily heard. The 5.1 track makes decent use of the dynamic setup, but the forward channels is where most of the action takes place. There are subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.

Extras:
First there are two audio commentaries for the feature. The first track stars director Dennis Dugan behind the microphone. The second track includes David Spade and Jon Heder. Of the two, the Spade and Heder track proves to be more comical (not laugh out loud funny, just humorous) and not as serious or informative about the movie and its production as the Dugan track. The tracks make for a decent listen after watching the film.

Next there is a collection of featurettes and they include subtitles in Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, and Chinese. "Nerds vs. Bullies" (5:46) stars Rob Schiender, Jon Heder, David Spade, Jon Lovitz, Reggie Jackson, Amaury Nolasco, Nick Swardson, Tim Meadows, Alex Warrick, Bill Romanowski, Craig Kilborn. The featurette contains interviews with the actors who give brief dialogues about their personal experiences growing up (whether or not they bullies), with various clips from the movie and behind the scenes footage.

"Mr. October" (8:11) features Rob Schiender, Sean Salisbury, Jon Lovitz, Amaury Nolasco, Max Prado, Molly sims, Jon Heder, and David Spade discussing what it was like having Reggie Jackson in the movie, what kind of person he is, etc. Jackson also stars in it and shares his perspective. "Play Ball" (6:03) presents Nick Swardson, Craig Kilborn, Jon Heder, Rob Schiender, Amaury Nolasco, Bill Romanowski, Dennis Dugan, Tim Meadows, Reggie Jackson, Molly Sims, Jon Lovitz, and David Spade. In this featurette, they all make brief comments about their opinions of baseball. "Who's On Deck?" (2:39) is a montage of clips with scenes from the movie where Howie was in the spotlight.

There are four deleted scenes entitled "Talk of the Truck Stop (0:54)", "Rod and Beans (1:03)", "Bad Reggie (0:36)", and "Ball Sweatin' Goldies (0:06)". You can watch them individually are all at once. Additionally, there is an Easter Egg. At the deleted scenes menu, press up on your DVD remote when you have "2B Talk of the Truck Stop" selected. It takes you to a deleted scene with Jon Lovitz singing the National Anthem.

Finally, there are trailers included for Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Bobby Ricky, Open Season, Monster House, RV, The Pink Panther, Fun With Dick and Jane, Big Daddy, Joe Dirt, Ultraviolet, The James Bond Ultimate Collection, and The Princess Bride.

Final Thoughts:
In The Benchwarmers, Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Jon Heder play grown-up nerds who are America's unsung heroes and challenge little league bullies to claim respect for nerds of all shapes and sizes. Funded by a ridiculously wealthy nerd played by Jon Lovitz, the cast embarks in a baseball tournament against a bunch of little leaguers. The plotline is unbelievably ridiculous, but it still manages to pull out a few good piss and fart jokes. If you enjoy this kind of humor, the movie should keep you entertained. But if you didn't like the score of movies Schneider, Spade, and Lovitz have starred in the past, you probably won't like The Benchwarmers. All of the actors play similar characters as they have before, and the jokes are similar too. In the end, I still enjoyed The Benchwarmers. I found the headlining actors to be pretty fun together and I liked how their over-the-top performances worked together. I think this movie is at least worth a rental. Between the feature and the extras, there is enough to keep you busy for a few hours.

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