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The Benchwarmers
Hits and strikes in equal amounts.
The Benchwarmers
Rob Schneider and David Spade in "The Benchwarmers".
OPENING WEEKEND: $19,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $74,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

January 9th, 2006: Three loser friends (Rob Schneider, David Spade, Jon Heder), who were always bullied while growing up and never got picked to play sports, finally get their chance to compete in baseball as grown-ups. After seeing the three men challenge a whole little league team to a game, Mel (Jon Lovitz), a little league representative, gets an idea. He offers them the opportunity to play baseball against the “evil” little league squads in front of a crowd of fans and parents. For the untalented threesome, it becomes an opportunity to exercise their childhood demons.

What to Expect: As yet another Saturday Night Live alumni project, The Benchwarmers features all the usual suspects. Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Jon Lovitz have all made a living from these types of comedies since retiring from the late night sketch show. After his breakthrough title role in the surprising and hysterically funny Napoleon Dynamite, Jon Heder joins the cast of regulars. Director Dennis Dugan’s credits include Beverly Hills Ninja, Saving Silverman, Big Daddy, and Happy Gilmore, which, along with Billy Madison and Tommy Boy, is the genesis of the “idiot fish out of water” trend in comedy that The Benchwarmers falls under. With this group of guys, anyone familiar with the movies I have mentioned so far should be fully aware of what to expect. As a bonus for anyone who is a fan, the hilarious, but not widely known stand-up comedian Nick Swardson helped write the script and has a part in the movie as well.

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The movie comes with a bigger budget than comedies of this sort are usually allowed. David Spade’s trademark wisecrack style should add some of the more subtle humor to balance out the absurdity. Surprisingly, Rob Schneider appears to have the “normal guy” role in The Benchwarmers. In the past, he’s been guilty of starring in the most nonsensical comedies like The Animal, The Hot Chick, and recently Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. I can’t imagine the 42-year old Schneider behaving normally, but it’s a good sign that someone might keep the comedy from spinning out of control. As usual there will be lots of cameos from Satuday Nigh Live stars like Tim Meadows, the great Norm Macdonald, and of course Adam Sandler. Former Late Late Show host, Craig Kilborn, will also make an appearance.

The Benchwarmers may look funny but if you’re seeking originality, look somewhere else. Since Happy Gilmore already covered hockey and golf and The Waterboy utilized football, obviously only basketball or baseball were left to choose from for The Benchwarmers. It’s hardly relevant which one was picked in the end as you can pretty much expect a retread of the same childish humor and behavior. Following Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, and Tommy Boy it’s all been downhill for the SNL comedy franchise. All three of those movies featured outrageous and frequently stupid characters at the core, surrounded by a world that was still relatively normal. They were disliked by those around them and the contrast generated the humor. Since then, these types of comedies have closely mimicked the successful formula without offering anything new (Even the production company name, “Happy Madison,” illustrates that). Even worse, they have abandoned any notion of reality and the results have been more in the vein of Little Nicky, where every character and every gag is so outlandish that the results feel tired and numb. The recent films tend to celebrate excessive stupidity rather than just simply laugh at it and The Benchwarmers may fall victim to this trend.

There is one joke in the film’s trailer that stands out for me. A big, hulking, athletic store clerk turns to David Spade and Jon Heder and exclaims “You tools think you’re athletes (pronounced ath-a-letes) now!” To which David Spade replies in his typically wise-ass tone “That’s funny, I didn’t know ‘athlete’ had three syllables!” It’s a funny, observational, and sarcastic reply that mocks the dumbfounded jock. For just a moment, David Spade comes off looking clever. Unfortunately, the writers felt the need to push the joke further as if though the observation and quick remark were not enough. Spade follows his comment by rubbing it in. “Ath-a-lete, that’s ama-za-zing!” At this point it becomes a stretch, and the humor fades. The need to further expand on the joke destroys the subtlety that it initially had. This exchange simultaneously reveals both the positive and the negative aspects of movies like this.

In Conclusion: In nearly any comedy, the plot logistics are irrelevant as long as it can make people laugh. Certainly, no one would go to see The Benchwarmers with expectations of realistic storytelling. Movies of this nature exist only to provide an escapist entertainment and an outlet for people’s daily, real life frustrations. The cast features a bunch of funny comedians, all of whom I like, but that doesn’t guarantee an amusing flick. There will be some laughs to be had for sure, but like I’ve said, these types of comedies have been declining steadily in quality. I think that The Benchwarmers will have hits and misses in equal amounts, but at the end will not feel any more than satisfactory. I liked Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, Tommy Boy, and even A Night at the Roxbury and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo made me chuckle so I always leave room for these types of comedies for the juvenile delinquent in me. I think that The Benchwarmers will be in a higher class than some of the weaker recent additions to the genre, but it will not be the next Happy Gilmore.

Similar Titles: Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, BASEketball
April 7th, 2006 (wide)
July 25th, 2006 (DVD)

Columbia Pictures

Dennis Dugan

Rob Schneider, David Spade, Jon Heder, Jon Lovitz, Nick Swardson, Amaury Nolasco

Total: 39 vote(s).

Comedy, Sports

Click here to view site

Rated PG-13 for crude and suggestive humor, and for language.

80 min






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