The Benchwarmers tells the story of three guys who try to make up for their lack of athleticism when they were younger by forming a three-man baseball team to challenge a full squad of elementary school baseballers. They develop a large following of left-out kids as they head for a high-stakes, winner-takes-all game with the best team of kids in the state.
The Benchwarmers falls in line with your typical crude comedy made popular these days by the likes of Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider. Although Sandler is absent from this particular installment, his production company is not, giving the film the look and feel of a lot of Sandler's other vehicles. Schneider is present, however, given the lead role as a man who wants to teach a few bully kids a lesson by challenging them to a game of baseball. Alongside Schneider's character Gus is David Spade as Richie, and Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder as Clark, who support Gus's venture but hardly help in the matter. What unfolds is a seldom clever, often crude, but still ultimately amusing comedy.
The Benchwarmers fails on more levels than I care to delve into, but its saving grace is its strong theme of dissuading kids from picking on each other. It's a subject seldom truly addressed, especially in films like this. The Benchwarmers is a rally for the underdog (or in this case, "nerds") and that itself is a refreshing thing to find coming from Hollywood.
But the film really goes wrong in the material it dips into to draw its comedic moments. From graphic vomit gags to bottles of urine to nose-picking and booger-eating, bathroom and bedroom humor make up the core of the jokes, leaving plenty of room for them to be desired. And if Gus's wife isn't trying to go into detail about her ovulation schedule to encourage him it's the time to start a family, then plenty of over-the-top gags are being offered about Richie's agoraphobic brother Howie. The distasteful nature of the comedy coupled with the innocent nature of kids being picked on rising to victory virtually cancel each other out. If the filmmakers had aimed the film at younger audiences who could use the encouragement in this thematic department, it could have been a classic comedic endeavor.
The cast's acting was also glaringly poor. Although Rob Schneider was charming in his role as Gus, his acting was often unnatural. The same could be said for Gus's wife played by Molly Sims whose performance felt more like it was read off a cue card than anything. The inconsistent David Spade actually seemed to have the best quips and moments in the film, as the usually promising Jon Heder nearly reprised his Napoleon Dynamite character as the lovably dimwitted Clark. With all the talent The Benchwarmers offered collectively, it felt like so much was wasted. To see SNL alumni David Spade, Jon Lovitz, Rob Schneider, and Tim Meadows gather on the same screen alongside Jon Heder and even Craig Kilborn, it just felt like their hands were tied down by an often weak script.
All in all, The Benchwarmers isn't the kind of comedy you'll want to take your family too. Crude humor makes up for the most of the film's jokes and it really seems to bog down what otherwise could have been a real charmer. It has its moments, but The Benchwarmers is ultimately one you should probably sit out. - John DiBiase, (reviewed: 4/14/06)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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