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The Benchwarmers Review

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Three grown-up losers, Gus (Schneider), Richie (Spade) and Clark (Heder), are inspired to form their own baseball team and play against the kind of kids who made their childhood hell. Financed by a local billionaire (Lovitz), they tour the country, trying to inspire sports dweebs everywhere.

★★★★

Adam Sandler’s oeuvre, that strange mix of frat-house juvenilia, icky schmaltz and pent-up neurotic violence, has never really charmed the British, and though his involvement here is as producer only, this film is very much of a piece with the lower end of his output — meaning the likes of Little Nicky rather then Happy Gilmore.

Indeed, it’s hard to know where to start with a film that disastrously teams two of Sandler’s most similar protégés — Rob Schneider’s likeable loser schtick is all but cancelled out by David Spade’s lame puppy-dog routine — and throws them together with the much younger star of a one-off indie hit (Napoleon Dynamite), here simply playing the same stuttering goofball in a desperate attempt to attract that sleeper hit’s teenage following. The words “bad chemistry” don’t even begin to cover it.

The anti-bullying message is a weird one and Heder’s constant mugging adds an uncomfortable ‘laughing at, not with’, dimension. More crucially, this is one of those American sports movies that simply does not travel, complete with in-jokes about the Little League, the Major League and a cameo by baseball ‘legend’ Reggie Jackson. Aficionados of guilty pleasures aren’t encouraged to wait for the DVD: even Jon Lovitz with a Batmobile, a dwarf attack in a playroom, and David Spade’s best wig ever can’t save this mawkish misfire.

An unfunny, unfocused sub-SNL baseball comedy that makes the likes of Joe Dirt and Deuce Bigalow seem vintage.

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