Friday, May 06, 2005

The Sandlot 2

Ten years after the events of “The Sandlot” comes another story set in the same neighborhood on the same sandlot. All of the kids from the first movie are now ten years older and have all moved away. The only person remaining is Johnny Smalls (James Willson), the younger brother of Scott Smalls, the main character and narrator of the first movie. Johnny grew up hearing about the legends of the sandlot and how Benny pickled the Beast and recovered the Babe Ruth autographed ball and how Hercules, the Beast, was tamed. But this is now 1972 and those events are barely legend around the sandlot. A new group of kids play there now. But there are only 5 boys on this team. The boys are led by David Durango (Max-Lloyd Jones). The rest of the boys are fairly nameless. Sure, they are all given names, but their personalities are lacking. The catcher, Mac (Brett Kelley) seems to be taking the place of Hamilton Porter from the first movie as the loud mouth, large bodied catcher. But he lacks the personality of Ham. It is as if he is a poor copy of the original character. There is the token black kid on the team, taking the place of Kenny DeNunez. There is one character who stands out, the entertaining Fingers Samuelson (Sean Berdy). Fingers is deaf, hence the nickname, but is somehow the most striking character in the movie.

But there is a twist. This time there are girls. Hayley Good fairer (Samantha Burton) and two of her friends end up rounding out the team and are just as good, if not better, than the boys. Right from the start some of the old conflicts start up: the sandlot kids have a rivalry with the uniformed little leaguers and someone hit’s a ball over the fence at Mr, Mertle’s yard (James Earl Jones) where there lives a descendant of the Beast called the Great Fear. It is at this point that Johnny Smalls relates the legend of the Beast and the rise of the Great Fear. Naturally mischief ensues.

If anyone has seen the first “Sandlot”, that person has a very good idea about how the rest of “The Sandlot 2” is going to play out. The stakes are raised in this movie, though that is also a matter of perception considering the first movie featured a retrieval of a ball autographed by Babe Ruth. Even so, “The Sandlot 2” is not a very original movie. Perhaps this isn’t a surprise considering this movie was direct to video rather than getting a theatrical release. But so much of it plays out exactly like the first movie even with the same dialogue. What is most disappointing about this is the fact that both this movie and the original were written and directed by David Mickey Evans. If anyone could recapture some of the magic of “The Sandlot”, it would be him. At least this wasn’t a low budget sequel written and directed with somebody who has no ties to the original. That’s also why this is so disappointed. Evans essentially remade the first movie with small cosmetic changes.

But what I don’t understand is why the kids didn’t just go and ask Mr. Mertle for help in retrieving what went over the fence. Scott Smalls had been friends with Mr. Mertle for years, so Johnny has to know that he is a decent and friendly man. The brief explanation given doesn’t really make sense except that it allows the last third of the movie to have a conflict. Without it, this movie would have ended after an hour. It was just a weak explanation, though, and it just let the kids go through some of the same things that occurred in the original movie.

I’m sure than a younger audience will enjoy “The Sandlot 2”, but those who have fond memories of “The Sandlot” should probably stay away. This does nothing to tarnish the original movie, but there just wasn’t a need for a sequel and even with the original writer/director on board, there is no comparison between the two movies. “The Sandlot 2” is an inferior product and is missing the charm and humor and fun of “The Sandlot”.

Grade: C-

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, I totally agree that Sean Berdy is the most striking character in the movie!
I sure hope we'll see him in a lot of other movies very soon!

Way to go Sean!