The Sandlot is probably my favorite movie. Not my favorite kids' movie, or my favorite sports movie, but my flat out favorite. I concede that it's not a technical masterpiece like The Godfather or anything, but Jesus Backflipping Christ do I love it. Conservatively, I'd estimate that I've seen it thirty times. I'm capable of having absurdly in-depth, hour-long conversations about it, whether or not the person I am conversing with cares or technically exists. So, yeah, I'm a fan.
The first two Scene Breakdowns I did more or less mocked ridiculously over the top scenes from 3 Ninjas & The Rock. This one will be more of an ooey-gooey lovefest. The scene I picked, "The Challenge," features the sandlot kids, led by their heavyset catcher Ham Porter, tossing insults back and forth with a group of rich kids before whupping them on the diamond. It is the third part of an incredibly strong four scene grouping, surrounded by Squints kissing Wendy Peffercorn at the pool, the Fourth of July Night Game, and the boys chewing tobacco at the fair and puking everywhere. That is a STRONG 15-20 minutes of movie magic, folks.
Before we get started, for any of you who want to die a little in your soul, there's this: seeing as it was released in 1993, if it were a person, The Sandlot would now be old enough to buy cigarettes.
Guh. Let's go.
Benny the Jet
The scene starts out with star player Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez (aka Benny, aka Benny The Jet, aka The Hispanic Kid That No One In The Fictional 1962 Town The Movie Is Set In Has Any Issue With Their Kids Associating With) getting caught in a pickle. By this point in the movie, we know two things about Benny: 1) He is the leader of the group, and; 2) He is a blur*. There is no way any of these kids are tagging him out. It's kind of like this one video game I had as a kid (which I am blanking on now), where you could get caught in a rundown and basically advance a base every time because the computer wasn't smart enough to stop you. In that way, fat or scrawny kids are a little like crappy old video games
* Note: The actor who played Benny, Mike Vitar, carved out a nice little niche as "dude who's fast as sh*t in children's sports movies" for a minute there. Besides playing P.F. Flyer-rocking Benny, he also played lightning fast skater Luis Mendoza in the second and third Mighty Ducks movies**. I have many strong opinions about these films that I won't get into her-... FOR THE LOVE OF GOD YOU'RE PUTTING TOGETHER A NATIONAL HOCKEY TEAM AND YOU SIGN UP A KID WHO DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO STOP AND A FORMER FIGURE SKATER AS THOUGH THERE ARE NO OTHER HOCKEY PLAYERS IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY?! GOD! (*spins directly off the planet*)
** Second note: The kid who played pitcher Kenny DeNunez (Brandon Quintin Adams) was also in the Mighty Ducks movies. He was the black kid who always called Adam Banks a cake-eater. Apparently Marie Antoinette references go over big in the Minnesota pee-wee hockey leagues.
Enter the Douche
After Benny gets out of the pickle, we're introduced to our antagonists: a group of douchey rich kids from the town. You can tell they are douchey and rich because they are wearing uniforms and, for some unknown reason considering the movie takes place in a summer so hot the boys literally just were at the pool cooling off because it was too hot too play baseball, letterman jackets. My working theory is that they were so committed to being douchebags that they wore the jackets despite the weather, just so people knew.
But yeah, it's about to get heavy.
Every Group Needs A Fat Kid
As we learned from the first Scene Breakdown I did, every group needs a fat guy. They fill a number of important roles in the group dynamic: loudmouth, smelly fart haver, cannonball doer, truffle-shuffler, etc. In The Sandlot, that role is filled by Hamilton "Ham" Porter (center), and brother, he does not disappoint. He and the head douche have a name-calling war that is the verbal equivalent of WWII. And like, WWII, it ends with the good guys dropping a nuclear bomb.
I've compiled the insults leveled by both sides in the next few slides.
This is Phillips, the head douche. As much as I know I'm supposed to hate him, the fact is I cannot. He doesn't just steal this scene, he picks it up and runs the hell away with it. Between his inflection, mannerisms, and asides, he acts circles around that fatass Porter. Also, he delivers one of my favorite insults in movie history, below.
His insults, in order:
- It's easy when you play with a bunch of rejects and a fat kid, Rodriguez.
- I said you shouldn't even be allowed to touch a baseball. Except for Rodriguez, you're all an insult to the game.
- We play on a real diamond, Porter. You ain't good enough to lick the dirt off our cleats.
- Shut up, idiot.
- Scab eater!
- Pus licker
- You eat dog crap for breakfast, geek.
- You bob for apples in the toilet... and you like it!
- Be there, buffalo-butt breath.
Read that second-to-last one again. You bob for apples in the toilet. And you like it. Mother of God it's perfect. The bobbing for apples in the toilet part is one thing, but the "and you like it" takes it to a whole other level. I want to track down the person responsible for this line and shake their hand, or buy them a drink, or hang around outside their house for like a week without them knowing and go through their trash to try to attain some sort of their "essence" and maybe stab their dog once or twice or something.
- What you say, crapface?
- Come on! We'll take you on right here, right now!
- Watch it, jerk.
- Butt sniffer!
- Fart smeller! (necessary GIF at right)
- You mix your Wheaties with your Mama's toe jam!
- YOU PLAY BALL LIKE A GIRL!
- Count on it, pee-drinking crapface.
The "You play ball like a girl" line is the one that Hiroshimas the douches. Apparently, that's the greatest insult you can level at someone in 1962. I'd have been a little more pissed about the bobbing for apples in the toilet, or the mixing my Wheaties with my Mama's toe jam lines, just because they were more creative, but hey... to each their own.
Serious discussion point: Almost half of the insults Porter throws out would double as good titles for disturbing foreign porn films. Especially "Pee-Drinking Crapface." Get on it, Germans.
The King of the Doofs
After Porter yells "You play ball like a girl," we are treated to a shot of this kid. I really have nothing to add besides pointing out what a doof he is. Really.
Anyway, the two sides agree to meet at noon the next day to settle the score on the diamond.
More Fat Shenanigans
As the game begins, we get some more great fat kid trash talking by Porter. Naturally, because he is fat, he is the catcher. He gets in some good zings about them being ugly, or their sisters being naked in the outfield, in a successful attempt to distract them. I like to believe this type of taunting goes on in the majors, too. I can't think of many things that would make me happier than hearing Carlos Ruiz, catcher for my precious Philadelphia Phillies, telling members of the Mets that if his dog was as ugly as them, he'd shave his butt and tell him to walk backwards.
Three additional thoughts on Ham Porter:
- Am I the only one who pictures Uproxx/Deadspin golden boy Drew Magary as a Porter-like child? Loud-mouthed? Check. Opinionated? Check. Fat and obsessed with scatological name-calling? Check. And I feel pretty confident Drew knew his way around a smore, too.
- As Vince pointed out a while back, the actor who played Porter is now a Scientologist. I thought Scientology was supposed to help your acting career? Dude got ripped off.
- Based on this image from Buzzfeed, he looks almost exactly the same today as he looked eighteen years ago when this movie was made. The kid who played Yeah-Yeah... not so much. Yes, that other guy really is the actor who played Yeah-Yeah.
Michael "Squints" Pallendorous
After the rich douches turn at bat, we get a montage of the sandlot kids calling their shot and hitting frozen ropes all over the field. One thing that always impressed me about this scene was how almost all the kids actually had decent swings. Very few things take me out of a sports movie or TV show faster than the actors looking painfully out of place participating in the sport (*cough*KennyPowers*cough*). And the type of kids that end up acting at age twelve aren't exactly the type of kids who spend hours batting off a tee to improve their swing plane. So kudos to the producers on that one.
My favorite of the kids in this montage, and my favorite kid in the movie, is the bespectacled gentleman pictured above: Michael "Squints" Pallendorous. Let's just say that a glasses-wearing, baseball-loving, tall-tale-telling, sex pervert character struck a chord with a young Danger Guerrero. Just look at the way Squints calls his shot. He points to ALL fields with a giant sh*t-eating grin on his face. God I love that kid.
I Googled the actor that played Squints, Chauncey Leopardi, to see what he's been up to lately, and what he looks like now. I've put the images in the next slide, to give you a chance to collect yourselves. Ladies, I'm looking at you here. Set your ladyparts to DEFCON 3. Keep in mind, this is a guy who once looked like this:
Holy yowza, Squints. A goatee? A smoldering expression that seems to be trying to figuratively stick its penis inside the camera? A CIGARETTE?! Well I do declare, Chauncey, you have turned quite the gentleman caller...
(*fans self, blushes*)
(*dramatically raises back of hand to forehead, faints into Squints arms*)
Here's two more pictures. Note the chest and forearm tattoos. I think if you closely enough, you'll see the small print on the tattoo on his arm reads, "STOP CALLING ME SQUINTS MOTHERF*CKER I'M A GROWN MAN NOW." Haha, you're funny, Squints.
Into the Sunset
The whole scene ends with a home run by Benny, a brief celebration, and the boys leaving the field triumphantly. As in every kids' movie ever made, the rich douches got their asses handed to them. My favorite part about this scene is that it's just that -- a scene. Most movies would have centered the whole plot around this rich vs. poor, haves vs. have-nots struggle. Instead, it's just four and a half minutes in the middle of the movie, sandwiched between a scene where one of them pretty much sexually assaults a lifeguard, and another where they all chew tobacco and produce a rather disturbing amount of vomit. You know, kid stuff. That's what the movie is about -- being a kid. And it captures that better than any other movie I remember seeing.
In conclusion, I made this picture of me and Wendy Peffercorn living happily ever after. The end.