The Benchwarmers is a 2006 Happy Madison Productions film directed by Dennis Dugan about Clark Reedy (Jon Heder) and Richie Goodman (David Spade), a pair of grown nerds, and their far less nerdy and older friend, Gus Matthews (Rob Schneider). Gus' wife Liz (Molly Sims) is desperate to get pregnant while Gus is a bit reluctant. They save a child from bullies while Gus was teaching the others baseball, and later defeat them in the same game. The child that they helped's father, a billionaire named Mel Carmichael (Jon Lovitz), returns and proposes them to play in a tournament with some of the nastier children's teams to raise awareness of bullying and its consequences, as none of them were allowed to play sports as children. However, rival little coach and former childhood bully Jerry McDowell (Craig Kilborn) is determined to stop the Benchwarmers from winning the prized stadium at all costs.
A direct-to-DVD sequel Benchwarmers 2: Breaking Balls was released in January 2019 (where only Jon Lovitz reprised his role). It got extreme negative reviews.
The film provides examples of:
- The Ace: Gus is awesome at pretty much every aspect of baseball, and essentially carries the guys through their games.
- As Himself - Reggie Jackson appears to help train Clark and Richie, claiming to be a childhood friend of Mel.
- The Atoner - Gus, once it becomes known that he bullied a child into a mental institution.
- Basement-Dweller: Richie's brother Howie is afraid of the sun, but instead of the basement he hides in the closet and never leaves the house. Richie only manages to get Howie to come out to play baseball by telling him that there's a serial killer on the loose who only kills people named Howie in his neighborhood.
- Marcus, the kid Gus bullied as a child, became this as an adult.
- Broken Pedestal: Gus for everyone who admired him once his history as a bully comes to light. Later rebuilt thanks to a testimony and forgiveness from Marcus, his old victim.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Clark
- Cool Car: Mel drives KITT!
- The Cameo/Creator Cameo: As usual with Happy Madison films, this features cameos of several of Adam Sandler's collaborators.
Coach Bellows: Gus Matthews. That name sounds familiar. Are you from around here?
- Director Dennis Dugan appears as Coach Bellows at the Brookdale game. He even shakes hands and has a brief conversation with Gus.
Gus: Uh...no. I grew up on the North Pole. Not even close to here.
- Dennis' father Charles also appears as Marty, Richie's senile boss at the video store.
- The man in the speedo is portrayed by John Farley, brother of the late Chris Farley.
- Do-Anything Robot - Number 7.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty - Jerry is a rather cruel coach to the children on his team, so much so that they turn on him and purposefully let the other team score in the final game. And then gave him an atomic wedgie.
- Duct Tape for Everything: How they finally get Clark to hold on to the bat.
- Fake-Hair Drama: Steven was teased about his prematurely receding hairline as a child, causing him to wear a totally unrealistic hair piece.
- Fiction 500 - Mel keeps a billion dollars in cash on his person, and funds an entire state-of-the-art baseball pitch with added playgrounds and a pool, hiring enough workers to build it in a single day.
- HeelFace Turn: Jerry's team in the final game, as well as Gus when he was growing up.
- Hot Potato: Former baseballer Reggie Jackson trains Gus, Richie and Clark. One of his drills (for catching and quick releasing) is a literal hot potatofrom the oven! Reggie tosses it to Gus, who quickly passes it to Richie. Richie quickly throws the potato to Clarkwho still holds on, burning his hand. Eventually, Clark flings the smoldering spud out the window, where it hits Number 7 (while mowing the lawn), causing it to accidentally shave the fur off side of a sleeping dog.
- Insult Backfire - Jerry's "derogatory" nickname to Gus causes Gus to mock Jerry, and eventually becomes the name of the Benchwarmers' tour bus.
- Jerk Jock - Jerry, and Gus when he was a child.
- Manchild: Clark, Howie, and Marcus.
- Missing Mom: It's never stated if Mel is a widower or a divorcee.
- Nerdy Bully: Gus is portrayed as a nerd, and is later revealed to have verbally bullied a vertically-challenged classmate of his while in grade school. He also made fun of another classmate's prematurely receding hairline.
- Reformed Bully: Gus was a bully as a kid who cleaned his act when he grew up and actively regrets his actions. Near the end of the film he visits his former victim to make amends.
- Running Gag: Clark accidentally throwing the bat.
- Shout-Out - The most obvious ones being KITT from Knight Rider, a Darth Vader gatekeeper system, and various other models, including Yoda and R2-D2, all owned by Mel himself. Hell, there's a ton of Star Wars and other shout-outs in this movie.
- Uncle Pennybags - Mel.
- You Are Number 6 - Number 7.