"Remember, kid, there's heroes and there's legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Follow your heart, kid, and you'll never go wrong."
— Babe Ruth
A 1993 classic Coming of Age Story, it follows the summer adventures and misadventures of a group of boys and their ragtag baseball team playing on "The Sandlot," their makeshift baseball field in Los Angeles, during the summer of 1962.Scotty Smalls is fairly brainy but struggles with making new friends due to being uncoordinated (doesn't have any skill at sports) and general shyness. In addition to being The New Guy, his mom recently remarried and he isn't quite adjusted to his new step-dad. Watching a group of kids play at the sandlot, he is invited to join by their best player and team leader Benny Rodriguez. An outcast among the group at first, Benny guides Scotty to become a decent ball player in his own right and is accepted by the others.As the film progresses, they learn about s'mores, crushes, friendship and that growing up doesn't always mean disaster. They are also forced to match wits with "The Beast," a vicious genetically altered dog who was locked up for killing some 170 people trying to steal from the junk yard, and now lives behind the left field fence.Basically this movie was to the kids of The Nineties what The Goonies was to the kids of The Eighties. It also follows The Hero's Journey so well it's practically the baseball version of Star Wars.Two direct-to video sequels were made thirteen years after the original had came and went:
The Sandlot 2 (2005): Set in 1972 (Ten Years after the First Movie) and features a new cast of kids taking over the lot. Essentially a Generation Xerox of the first movie only with girls in the group and replacing the prized baseball with a model rocket.
The Sandlot: Heading Home (2007): Featured a bit more originally as it features an arrogant professional baseball player getting knocked out and winding up back in 1976 (Four Years after the Second Movie) to relive his childhood and learn The Power of Friendship.
This film provides examples of:
Alas, Poor Villain: The Beast. He wasn't really a villain, but it's still sad to see him crushed by the metal fence. Smalls and Benny were the only ones to take pity on him and helped him.
An Aesop: Tobacco is bad for you. Chewing tobacco, in this case.
Arc Words: "Good things to good people" in Heading Home.
Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: "Shit" is said three times by the kids throughout the movie, although the chewing tobacco scene and the pool scene might also have pushed it past the G rating.
Batman Gambit: It could be argued that Squints' stunt at the pool was one of these. He nearly drowned himself just so he could kiss the lifeguard that he's been in love with for years. And although it causes him to get banned from the swimming pool for life, it also causes Wendy Peffercorn to finally take notice of him. In the end, his gambit pays off better than he ever could have imagined, because years after the film ends Squints and Wendy get married and have a lot of kids.
Beware Of Vicious Dog: Subverted. A good 3/4 of the movie sets up The Beast as this terrifying nigh-supernatural monster they will eat you the instant you enter his territory, but he's a friendly dog. His son, the Fear, in The Sandlot 2 takes after him.
Centrifugal Farce: The infamous "Tequila" scene involves a bunch of kids trying chewing tobacco to emulate their baseball idols, and then getting onto a fast spinning carnival ride. Vomit ensues..
Chase Scene: The film's climactic scene is Benny outrunning the Beast all over the whole town and to the sandlot again. LITERALLY all over town!
Cluster F-Bomb: Subverted. For most of the movie, the boys swear plenty, but when it comes time for the name-calling contest, they decide not to use the "B" word and substitute it with "female dog!" Granted, that's what it means, but still...
Cool Old Guy: Mr. Mertle, The Beast's owner. He's a former professional baseball player who raised The Beast.
Could Have Avoided This Plot: Smalls suggests they go talk to The Beast's owner to have him get the ball back for them. Squints shoots this down, and everyone else agrees. The first thing Mr.Mertle says when they tell them they were trying to get it back is to ask why they didn't just ask him. Cue everyone shouting at Squints and hitting him over the head with their baseball caps. Better justified than most examples given the urban legends surrounding The Beast, and the fact that the main characters are kids.
Similarly happens in the sequel, but worse since the main character is the younger brother of Smalls and so should know better.
Fan Myopia: In-Universe, most of the boys assume that everyone knows who Babe Ruth is and what he did, so they generally call him "The Bambino." This lack of clarification on Ruth and his career results in Smalls, new to the game, not realizing just how valuable his stepfather's Ruth-autographed baseball is, and thus using it to play ball (which ends up in the possession of The Beast after a homer).
Fun-Hating Confiscating Adult: Mr. Mertle is known as one to the Sandlot team. "He's the one who made the beast eat that kid!" This is a subversion as neither is really as bad as the children originally believed.
Give Geeks a Chance: Squints has a hopeless crush on the lifeguard at the local swimming pool, Wendy Peffercorn. He is so desperate for her to notice him that he nearly drowns himself just so that he can give her a kiss while she's performing CPR on him. During the film's "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue we learn that Squints and Wendy eventually got married and had nine kids.
Groin Attack: In "Heading Home", Two-ton wants to kick Tommy in the balls after he was knocked in the head.
Hammered into the Ground: Smalls mentioned having a dream about a giant baseball signed by Babe Ruth that "fell out of the sky and hammered him into the ground like a railroad spike".
Hello, Nurse!: Wendy Peffercorn has two scenes. The first has just Squints and Yeah-yeah staring at her entranced. The second, in the pool, has all nine boys staring at her.
The Hero: Smalls is The Protagonist but Benny is the classical Hero because he is the one taking heroic action. Jumping into the Beast's territory and then outrunning it all over town is comparable to a modern day Herculean feat.
Intergenerational Friendship: Scotty and Benny seem to be heading in this direction with Mr. Mertle at the end of the film. Part of the deal they make at the end is talking baseball with him on a weekly basis.
Kiss of Life: Squints deliberately pretends to drown in order to get the kiss of life from a hot lifeguard (who is played by Marley Shelton so you can hardly blame him). The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue reveals that Squints and the lifeguard eventually got married and had a lot of kids.
Knuckle Cracking: Benny cracks his knuckles when he faces off with the Beast. He does it with one hand, pinching his fore- and middle-fingers with his thumb.
Ms. Fanservice: Wendy Peffercorn has two scenes that show her reducing Squints to ga-ga eyes just by existing.
New Parent Nomenclature Problem: Scotty's mother had just married a new man he doesn't connect with off the bat. After gaining new friends and learning about baseball, he begins to find some more common ground with him and says in the closing narration he soon had no problem calling him "dad".
Nice Hat: Inverted with Small's first hat, which Benny tells him to throw in his fireplace, and played straight with the hat he gives Smalls.
Nice Guy: Benny's niceness as noted under Big Brother Mentor is all the more apparent in contrast with the other members of his team.
Nostalgic Narrator: The adult Scotty, voiced by the film's writer-director David M. Evans.
Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: The dog, A.K.A. Hercules. The whole movie revolves around the boys' fear of the dog on the other side of the fence. They have believed that the dog was a monster that wanted to kill them. The truth? It's just a big dog who wants to play and may have been protecting its territory because it thought the boys were threatening.
Rather: "Oh SHIT!" when The Beast leaps over the fence to get the ball back from Benny.
Also the team's reaction when Smalls tells them the ball he hit over the fence was signed by "Baby Ruth"
Opposing Sports Team: Subverted; it initially appears like the Sandlot ragtag team have met their villianous match midway through the film with a rival team that is introduced, complete with snobby attitude and nice uniforms. In the very next scene the Sandlot team defeats them in blow-out fashion.
Phrase Catcher: Smalls gets "You're killing me, Smalls!" several times from Ham.
Product Placement: For PF Flyers who were trying to launch a comeback based on the returning popularity of their main competitor, the Converse All-Stars. Smalls-As-Narrator even says that they're "guaranteed to make a kid run faster and jump higher."
The Red Baron/I Have Many Names: All of the boys (except Smalls at first, since he's new to baseball) idolize Babe Ruth, and they commonly refer to him by one of Ruth's numerous nicknames (most commonly, The Bambino). In fact, only Mr. Mertle uses Ruth's actual first name, George.
Role Reprisal: Chauncey Leopardi returns as Squints for the third movie.
Verbal Tic: Three guesses as to what Yeah-Yeah's is.
"Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: As is typical for these types of films, the end has Scott narrating what ultimately became of his friends, as their images fade out one by one. At the very end, we're treated to a Time Skip showing that Scott is now a sports commentator, and Benny plays baseball professionally for their hometown Los Angeles Dodgers.
Worthy Opponent: Benny is seen as such to the snobby players. "You shouldn't be allowed to touch a baseball. Except for Rodriguez, you're all an insult to the game!"
Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Squints deliberately jumps into the deep end of the pool, despite not swimming well, because he knows that Wendy Peffercorn, who is on lifeguard duty, will drag him out and give him mouth-to-mouth. While he may have actually passed out at first from this, he certainly was aware enough at the end to fake being unconscious long enough to get her close enough for a kiss.
Wrestler in All of Us: Ham grows up to be a professional wrestler, professionally known as The Great Hambino.