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The Sandlot Kids Review

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★★★★★

For every Field of Dreams there are a dozen lesser, completely incomprehensible baseball movies. This is one of them. The story centres around the nine boys who gather at the sandlot — that's a playing field to you and me — every afternoon in the summer of 1962 to practise baseball. All the usual suspects are here: the bespectacled overacting dorky kid, the guzzling fat kid, the useless-at-baseball wimpy new kid and the super-cool gang-leader kid.

It is the latter, played by real-life junior baseball star Mike Vitar, who produces one of the film's few genuine performances. Unfortunately, the gang only has enough members for one team, so what we are left with is nine guys taking turns to whack a ball. The "plot" develops when they manage to hit it into the neighbouring yard, for there dwells the dreaded beast who eats baseball-playing kids for breakfast and from whom no baseball has ever been returned intact. The nine make it their mission to retrieve that ball.

If this all sounds slight, that's because it is. That a bunch of 12-year-olds should hold such fear of what is obviously a big, loveable, slobbery dog is hard enough to swallow. That this episodic, weak comedy should have been even a minor hit in the States is even harder to comprehend.

The adult characters barely get a look in with Leary and Allen underused as parents of the wimpy new kid on the block (Guiry), and James Earl Jones only popping up at the end for one of those trademark cameos that have become his speciality. There's a whole slate of similarly themed baseball movies lining up to grace our screens later this year. It's time to say enough is enough.

It's hard to believe that a bunch of scrappy kids would really be scared of a big dog, which leaves the premise of this film floundering. However the kids prove to be plucky enough to give the film some kind of motivation but the direction lacks in humour or excitement.

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