The Sandlot (1993)

You’re killin’ me Smalls!

Synopsis

A total nerd with a huge hat moves to a new town and connects with a local gang of ruffians who happen to play baseball every waking hour of the day. Luckily, he knows nothing about the sport and gets them in the biggest pickle. Any of them. Had ever been in.

Why We Love It

What a ridiculously fun movie. A movie that displays front and center a childhood I never had but might have dreamed of. A childhood where I wandered on home whenever the streetlights started to glow. A childhood where I lived near Darth Vader. It’s all fantastic – laid out before our eyes like a far better version of dad’s slideshow.

Hell, I don’t even like baseball, and I love this movie. You know why? Because it’s not about baseball. It’s about anything that childlike wonder rallies behind.

This flick came out when I was nearing the end of elementary school. It was about that time that I started feeling alienated just like everyone else on the planet. It’s that strange, cusp age where certain classmates are starting to see girls the way you’re supposed to see girls. Some of them are starting to question the idea of immediate friendship that being 6-years old tends to promote. Some of them are breaking away from the pack. But most of us weren’t, and we’d be at a loss for the next ten (to one hundred) years as to why those people became so special back then.

Scotty Smalls is a perfect character to represent the agony of being young and unliked. He’s new, awkward, and he’s coping with a new father figure who seems too busy to connect with his new son. Even his friends don’t like him in the beginning. He’s nervous, difficult to have around, and he becomes a burden during the afternoons that should be pure fun. What’s beautiful about the movie is that we see that kid come into his own.

More so than Smalls, who is killing us, we get to see a romanticized version of history where the neighborhoods are safe and full of adventure. The local swimming pool – where the cute, slightly older lifeguard gives us something to look at. The block party – where families got together and we shot off fireworks. The carnival – where we all acted like idiots.

And, of course, the baseball diamond out back – where we got into the biggest pickle of our lives.

The biggest set piece was that damned Babe Ruth-signed baseball that Smalls foolishly brought out onto the field and subsequently knocked into the belly of the Beast. A part of me thought it would be back there FOR-EV-ER, but for the tensest drama of the movie, it’s given a remarkably small amount of screen time. They fight and claw, use an Erector Set, and finally the PF Flyers are strapped on. It’s true. They are scientifically proven to make you run faster and jump higher. Try it at home.

The Sandlot is scene after scene after scene of nostalgia-glasses-viewed perfection. It’s all iconic because we either lived it or wish that we did. It’s a love letter to summer and that time in our lives when we’re in transition (whether going from elementary to middle school, or middle to high). Above all else, it’s a reminder that we all look goofy in our giant-billed caps, and that’s okay.

Moment We Fell in Love

So many scenes. This is the movie that taught us to cuss (Butt sniffer! Puss licker! Fart smeller!). This is the movie that taught us that our neighbor’s dog was 8 stories tall. This is the movie that taught us that S’Mores are kinda messy, but good.

But the one that I always come back to is the scene that taught us to fall in love with our local lifeguard.

Wendy the lifeguard. Is there a greater thing of beauty? A more mysterious, unattainably attainable woman? An object of desire and loveliness more willing to jump into the deep end for us?

Turns out it’s the geekiest kid in the group that has the cojones to risk a drowning death in order to feel her lips on his. I’ve always known why this movie resonates so much with guys, but whenever I asked some girl friends that loved it why they loved it – it was this scene. It’s oddly sweet. We find ourselves cheering for the underdog yet again.

The best part? She marries the doofus. Does it get better than that? Imagine if the story you tell your grandkids about how you met was The Sandlot.

Final Thoughts

I fully admit that this movie probably seems cheesy now and that finding it all these years later is most likely not a recipe for love, but I found it at a young age and wrapped it in the protective seal of my memories so that I can watch all those cheesy parts and smile. I love it.

I also find it interesting that it came out the same year as Jurassic Park. Maybe I’m just now realizing what an effect that year of film had on me, and I catch myself wondering if it affected anyone else the same way. Considering the droves of people in love with both of these films, I have to assume I’m not alone.

For more movies that will warm your movie-loving heart, browse through our Movies We Love Archive.


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