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The Sandlot – 25th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

I tend to not be very shy about my distaste for a lot of kid-friendly films that various members of my generation cherish. It’s not that I enjoy hating on Hook or Jumanji (for being terrible movies), I have no nostalgic love for them because I didn’t like them when I was young, so I certainly don’t have much care for them now. All of this is a way of saying I am completely fine celebrating The Sandlot, as it is a wonderful coming-of-age film that blends elements of underdog sports movies with the mythic storytelling of an urban legend about a great, big dog. The film has seen its share of Blu-ray releases, but this year is the 25th anniversary, meaning Fox decided to put out another edition of the cult favorite, even if there was still hardly any effort going into the disc itself.

Film:

Set in the summer of 1962, the story revolves around new kid Scotty Smalls’ (Tom Guiry) integration into the local sandlot baseball team. It’s a group of neighborhood kids led by soon-to-be local legend Benny “the Jet” Rodriguez (Mike Vitar). While initially focused on Smalls’ work to become a decent baseball player, despite ridicule from some of the other kids (Smalls’ starts out pretty hilariously pathetic), an eventual focus on “The Beast” takes over. This is the savage dog who lives in the backyard, behind the sandlot and it happens to be watching over a baseball signed by Babe Ruth, that was unlucky enough to be hit over the fence separating the kids from the mythic animal.

As enjoyable as The Sandlot is, there’s not much to it, and it’s shocking that it works as well as it does. Writer/director David Mickey Evans is no George Lucas, so it’s not as if this film has the same sort of nostalgic flare as something like American Graffiti. The movie wasn’t even a big hit at the box office back in 1993. It did well against its budget and was indeed a staple for the VHS era, along with TV syndication, but not a blowout money maker by any means. Even critical reviews were mixed at the time, noting the film’s lack of much substance, beyond surface level values.

What pushes the film over the edge to have built it into a cult favorite is the sheer likability of the film and its simplicity. The Sandlot is a sports movie, but it’s not about a big game. It’s a monster movie, but the monster is a dog that’s exciting to learn about and see take on a bunch of kids trying to plot a baseball rescue. It’s a coming-of-age story, but none of the kids randomly die or face genuinely life-changing moments. Heck, the most significant thing Smalls has to overcome is not being as awkward around his stepdad Bill (Denis Leary).

Speaking of which, there’s a nice adult cast that lends some respectability to a film known mainly for its quotable (and meme-able) moments. Along with a nicely toned down Leary, Karen Allen is here as Smalls’ mom. Marley Shelton plays the lifeguard desired by fan-favorite “Squints,” and the great James Earl Jones stars as the owner of The Beast. For a film not asking for a whole lot, there’s some good talent among the kids (who act like kids) and adults.

The Sandlot remains highly watchable. It’s not attempting to be anything more than it is, but there’s a good amount of spirit in how it all comes together. The memorability comes from the likable characters and scenarios that are unique to the film. Combined with an appropriately fitting score and a soundtrack full of classics, the film manages to get by on a decent amount of nostalgia that isn’t obnoxious in its approach.

Video:

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: This is the same transfer found in the various releases of this film, so there’s not much to dig into. It looks good enough, as detail shines through on the sandlot, as well as some of the indoor scenes. It’s a clear enough image that doesn’t subtract the natural film grain, even if DNR seems a bit apparent on the edges.

Depth: Good spacing seen throughout this film. Again, the use of many outdoor locations helps in selling the depth of field.

Black Levels: Black levels are deep and effective. No signs of crush and the numerous outdoor scenes are benefited by a good handle on shadows and other darker elements.

Color Reproduction: This is a bright film with a lot of warm and natural colors. It all works in making the colors, in general, stand out as needed.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures register strongly here. You get some close-ups that do their job to reflect the actors accurately. A good amount of detail fairs very well, especially in showing the constant dusty faces.

Noise/Artifacts: This disc is mostly clean, with some minor noise issues.

 

Audio:

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French and Spanish Dolby Surround

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: The 5.1 lossless track does plenty to make for an enjoyable auditory experience. Hearing the various atmospheric sounds in the film and heavy play from the score and soundtrack registers very well.

Low-Frequency Extension: The LFE channel doesn’t get a whole lot of play, but subtle moments track well enough and some major sequences involving an explosion and a chase work quite well.

Surround Sound Presentation: The balance is solid here. There is an emphasis on the center and front channels, though the rear channels do get a chance to add when needed.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone is loud and clear.

 

Extras:

Given that this disc is identical to the previous releases, the genuinely notable additions are a new mini poster and some Topps baseball trading cards that come packaged inside this release, along with a new collectible booklet

Features Include:

  • Featurette (SD, 5:51) – An old EPK concerning the basics of what The Sandlot is.
  • Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:31)
  • TV Spots (SD, 3:44)
  • DVD Copy of the Film
  • Digital HD Copy of the Film

 

Summary:

I’m not entirely sure why Fox doesn’t want to do more with a best-selling home media title like The Sandlot. Surely some of the cast would be fine coming together for some retrospective interviews (I mean, Disney went all out for Heavyweights, so what’s stopping these guys?). Regardless, the film remains a lot of fun, even if the disc has little to offer that’s new. It looks and sounds good enough, which is what should matter to those who don’t own a copy of the film in hi-def already. So go ahead and add this copy so you can own The Sandlot for-ev-er.

Order Your Copy Here

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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