In an effort to help anyone reading this understand whether this film is worth seeing or not, I am going to place a disclaimer on this review: There are times when I make the trip to my local Cineplex and see a film that is wrought with immature themes and cheap “poop and fart joke” humor. During these films, it is very likely that I am transformed into a 12-year-old boy and become very easily amused. This was very recently the case.
I have long respected some of the great post-Saturday Night Live comedians who have gone on to make some of the best comedies of their time. The likes of Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and even the more recent success of Will Ferrell come to mind. But Chase and Murray dominated the 80s, while Ferrell is taking over in the first decade of the 21st century. In the 90s, there were two SNL alums who stuck out in my mind: Chris Farley and Adam Sandler.
You have to look at where they have gone since their heydays to understand this next comment. Farley, as we all know, met an untimely end due to a drug overdose. Sandler, on the other hand, has matured in his career and gone on to make films that are recognized as being more than just slapstick comedy, but of a solid dramatic quality. (Punch Drunk Love comes to mind.) This is a maturity that seems to be the natural progression for most comedians. But this is not really about Sandler and Farley, is it? No. They are not in this film. This is about two actors who rode on the coattails of Sandler and Farley: Rob Schneider and David Spade.
[ADBLOCKHERE]Schneider and Spade brought balance to the comedic antics of the aforementioned Sandler and Farley. They were the second half of two solid comedic teams. Just think Tommy Boy or Happy Gilmore. What would Tommy Boy have been without David Spade’s snide remarks about Tommy’s weight? What would Happy Gilmore have been without the “You can do it!” guy? They may have been entertaining, but not quite as much. This brings me to my point, finally. While the likes of Adam Sandler have grown up and become real actors, what has become of Spade and Schneider? To say the least, they have become Benchwarmers.
To say that these two actors have lowered themselves to their roles in this film may be saying a bit too much, but it definitely needs to be said. What we have here is the story of three friends (Schneider, Spade and Napolean Dynamite‘s Jon Heder) who stumble, almost too literally, into helping a group of nerdy kids win back their respect and self-confidence from a group of bullying jocks by playing in a baseball tournament. It is a heartfelt, but all too familiar story that has been played out over and over again in movies like this. Unfortunately, in order for it to be interesting, it must be somehow different. Here it is not.
While the story is significantly lacking, the acting is average at best. Rob Schneider is slightly more mature in his role than in past roles, and he gives the film its most believable character. (Except for the fact that he has a smoking hot wife — that is completely unrealistic.) David Spade and Jon Heder are more than over the top; they are annoying. Over the top is reserved for the nerdy billionaire, played by Jon Lovitz, and the agoraphobic brother of Spade’s character, played by comedian Nick Swardson. None of these characters, even combined, add up to more than a few cheap laughs. But then again, what more can you expect out of a movie like this? It is built for cheap humor that masks a lack of originality.
It is sad to say that I found this movie to be funny, but remember my disclaimer: I am easily amused. So if you were a big fan of movies such as Tommy Boy or Happy Gilmore, you won’t be completely disappointed in The Benchwarmers as it will make you laugh. But it may never live up to the aforementioned comedies due to the fact that there is no man in this cast capable of carrying the comedic load. All of these factors make this one extremely difficult for me to recommend to the average moviegoer. Unless you are like me, very easily amused by cheap humor, I would go searching elsewhere for two hours of entertainment.
Final Grade: D
It will make you laugh if you think a kid farting on the face of another kid is funny.
There is very little story here, not to mention the fact that many of the characters are ridiculously over the top and mostly annoying.
On the Side:
In one of the films more obscure yet cool moments, the Batmobile from the original TV show Batman (1966) makes an appearance, as does Kit from Night Rider.
Starring: Rob Scneider, David Spade, Jon Heder, and Jon Lovitz
Directed by: Dennis Dugan
Writing Credits: Allen Covert and Nick Swardson
Release Date: April 7, 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for crude and suggestive humor, and for language.
Run Time: 80 min.
Studio: Sony Pictures
By Neil Miller, Editor of Film School Rejects