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Monday, April 24, 2006

The Benchwarmers

—1. Overview
—2. Cast and Crew
—3. Photo Pages
—4. Trailers, Clips, DVDs, Books, Soundtrack
—5. Posters (David Spade)
—6. Production Notes (pdf)
—7. Spiritual Connections
—8. Presentation Downloads

enlarge Sometimes I go to movies just to have fun, not expecting much other than hoping that I have a good time. When I am really having a lucky day, not only will I enjoy the movie I am going to see for fun, but, I’ll also be surprised by having a good time and appreciating the message of the movie. The Benchwarmers this weekend provided such an opportunity.

The Benchwarmers features a cast of great comedic character actors that have in some ways been known for the characters they play, then they do the fact that they do a decent job pulling off those characters. Those include, Rob Schneider as Gus, a man who has a passion for standing up for the oppressed children in his neighborhood. There is something mysterious about Gus, while he is considered by many as a nerd, he isn’t hesitant about standing up for himself and he can play a mean game of baseball. Schneider is likely more known for his Gigolo series and his trademark role in the movie The Water Boy, but he does a more than admirable job here at providing a character the audience enjoys and appreciates.

Then there are Gus’s friends. Riche played by David Spade and Clark played by Jon Heder of Napoleon Dynamite fame. Both characters play to the character roles that both actors have played in the past and that is okay, because they have both played likeable characters. This is especially true of Heder whose character Gus is really nothing much more than a suburban Napoleon Dynamite. The characters are fun, funny, and likeable though so I didn’t mind so much that Dennis Dugan in his direction used the strengths of the actors to play character types that both Spade and Heder are known for.

The story line is quite simple. Gus is a handy man who is married to a beautiful wife. He seems to have done quite well for himself and he and his wife are in the process of having children. He is somewhat reluctant because he has concerns that if having a child that he will be picked on by bigger kids as the child grows up. He has a hard time accepting the fact that his child will have to go through the difficulties that many other “nerd” children have to go through. He knows the experience all to well.

He also has a couple of friends that know about nerdom all to well. Living life as nerds they have seen and been through it all. Clark is a low intelligent young man who still has issues with the jocks and individuals in the community. He has as a vocation a paper route. Then there is Richie, who works at the local video store. Richie has a neurotic brother named Clark who has his own fears. They all have one thing in common. They have been abused and used by the jocks in society and they have a passion to not take it any more.

One day while out in the community, Clark and Gus are having a conversation when they notice a group of community bullies start picking on the nerds who are trying to enjoy a game of baseball on the community baseball field. After they start picking on the nerds, Richie and Clark jump in and come to the rescue of the nerds. As the story unfolds, there is a baseball challenge where Clark offers to play the boys for the use of the field. Gus goes and gets his friend Richie, and the game of the three adults is on against the full team of little league aged players. The three win the game and one of the nerds who was the focal point tells his father, Mel, played by John Lovitz, who happens to be a Billionaire, several times over. They come up with an outlandish challenge to give ultimate respect to Nerds all across America.

The themes are themes we have seen many times in the past. There are no new story lines here, although there is some uniqueness in the ending of the story. That doesn’t deter from the fact thought that this is a laugh out loud, good time of a movie. They do so with only glimpses of sophomoric humor, and most of the humor depends on site gags which is delivered brilliantly by this cast. While it may be old school acting and comedy techniques from this crew, the direction and writing are done in such a way that I as an audience member just didn’t mind.

I was pleasantly surprised by the movie with the few exceptions of comedy gags relying on homosexual jokes and then the joke leaning towards “gay wrestling.” Knowing the real sport and the stereotypes that go with the sport, I was actually offended by this joke and it kept the movie from being more enjoyable. In a movie that tries to break down certain stereotypes, I was disappointed that they tended to support other stereotypes, even if done in the name of humor.

Despite the negative feelings I felt about some of the issues related to the movie, I still had a good time. I laughed out loud, and really appreciated the plot twist towards the end of the movie. The fact that the movie didn’t end as expected also added to my enjoyment of the movie, as well as the theme of respect for all people that the movie tried to portray. All in all, I believe The Benchwarmers accomplished its purpose. It made me laugh, and it gave me something to think about. Two things I am grateful for and didn’t honestly expect when going in to the theater to purchase my tickets.

On a scale of 1-10, for the bad joke about wrestling, plus the number of gay jokes which came to 4 I’ll give a 10-4 for a total score of 6. Not great but still a good time.



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