Friday, April 07, 2006

Not Good, But Kind Of Funny

(Saw this film at a special screening on Thursday night. Enjoy the review.)

The Benchwarmers is the latest film from Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions. Happy Madison's track record includes Joe Dirt, Grandma's Boy, and the Deuce Bigalow films to name a few. If you have seen any of these films, then you'll be happy (or extremely disappointed) to find that The Benchwarmers fits right in with the Happy Madison filmography.

This movie stars Rob Schneider (who only gets starring roles in Happy Madison films) as landscaper Gus. While going by a little league baseball field, he happens to see nerdy kid Nelson (Max Prado) get harassed by a bullying little league team. He helps the kid out and eventually hooks up with his friends Richie (David Spade) and Clark (Jon Heder). Richie and Clark have never played baseball before but Gus takes the two back to the field to play. That's where the three of them encounter the bullies from before who want to practice. Gus, mad at the way they treated the nerdy kid, tells them no. The kids get mad then Gus challenges the team to beat him and his friends for the right to play.

The kids lose the game (mostly due to Gus's heroics) and word spreads to Nelson's father Mel (Jon Lovitz), a local billionaire. He decides to hold a tournament where the three guys play various "mean-spirited" little-league teams with a brand-new stadium as the prize. The guys play and give hope to the nerdy kids of the world and so on and so on…

Frankly, the plot isn't important in a comedy like this. The only important things are the silly characters and the abundance of cheap humor. This is probably the first movie I've seen in years where Rob Schneider's character is actually pretty normal. He's not having sex with weird women for money (Molly Sims plays his wife, for goodness' sake) or acting like anything out of the ordinary. As video store clerk Richie, David Spade just takes his snark act and puts it under a mustache and a bowl cut. Thank goodness Jon Heder played Clark because no one else could ever make that character remotely funny.

The Benchwarmers is filled to the brim with incredibly cheap humor. There are jokes about piss, poop, vomit, spit, farts, gays, lesbians, and midgets. There are scenes where stuff that shouldn't be eaten gets eaten, bad things happen to cute animals, mean kids get hit by baseballs, and random stuff gets destroyed. There's even a confused old man. However, I have to admit that I laughed at some of this stuff. I think there's a small part of every guy who always enjoys when a jerk gets hit by a flinging baseball bat.

Also, some of the supporting cast members provide intentionally and unintentionally funny moments. Jon Lovitz works with what he has and gets some laughs. There was one scene where he gets a laugh simply out of pausing and looking back at another character. Amaury Nolasco of the hit FOX drama Prison Break gets the unfortunate task of playing a little league ringer from the Dominican Republic. He spends most of his time onscreen drinking beer and tequila. This stereotypical portrayal is unfunny yet actually becomes sort of funny because it's so terrible. This is also somewhat true of Swimmer Boy (John Farley), whose sole purpose is to have too much body hair, wear a too tiny speedo, and act stereotypically gay.

The Benchwarmers isn't a good movie and it's kind of sad because it could've been one. I would have loved to have seen this premise in the hands of the "Frat Pack" (Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell and etc.). That being said, this movie isn't nearly as bad as it could've been. It's surprisingly efficient timewise (the credits seem to imply that there will be a ton of deleted scenes on the eventual DVD) and there are some laughs to be found. However, I think this is a movie that's probably best seen after a night of partying when you're still drunk enough to think everything is funny.

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