The Sandlot is among the most iconic and legendary family-friendly sports films ever made. It exists as a rarity in the world of film because each scene is so well-written that they seem to feed off of each other as the film progresses.
While some may pan its unrealistic situations, I felt that the ridiculousness was a fine choice for a film aimed at kids. The film is told from a child’s perspective, so it only made sense that things would be exaggerated as that is how the world seems in the mind of a child. By the climax of the film, I felt so captivated by the story that I was immersed in the fictional world enough as to overlook situations that would otherwise be considered nonsensical.
The film builds beautifully upon the collective feeling of nostalgia that the older generation feels while capturing the imaginative firsthand experience of playing baseball with your friends. This approach to storytelling makes the Sandlot appealing to and entertaining for kids and adults alike.
The movie does a really good job of making you fondly remember those moments in your youth when you and your friends would play pickup baseball games, or the less stellar moments when you dropped an easy fly ball and had to live with the overwhelming embarrassment. Being the fat kid who wasn’t good at sports, I understood and could sympathize with the nerdy clumsiness of Scott Smalls, the main character in the film.
The cast of characters is much of what makes the Sandlot so great. Every character is fully realized and believable. The dialogue between the kids is spot-on and reminds me of the disgusting and sometimes idiotic conversations my friends and I would engage in when we were hanging out. Smalls has family issues that make him easy to relate to while his best friend Bennie Rodriguez takes Smalls under his wing when the other kids refuse to accept him. Bennie is the best player on the team, so the other boys respect his opinion. The lovable Ham and Squints add some delightful comic relief as well. Squints is a typical nerd who falls for the beautiful local lifeguard while Ham is a fiery, foulmouthed catcher who is always goading the opposing team.
At its core, the Sandlot is a coming-of-age story about Smalls growing up and coming out of his shell on the baseball field. There are other story elements like dealing with a giant dog who’s stolen an important baseball and Smalls’ first home run hit that add to the heartwarming, comical essence of the film. All of the directorial choices in the film as well as the writing help to craft an endlessly entertaining, sincere, lovable film.
Someday, I hope to show the Sandlot to my children so that they can experience the same feelings I had when watching it for the first time. It quickly became one of my favorites and I can see future generations feeling the same way about it. It’s timeless. The Sandlot effortlessly merges a coming-of-age plot with a children’s sports film and the end result is the epitome of nostalgic storytelling. It’s easy to see why so many people consider it one of the most classic 90s movies ever made.