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On April 7, 1993, 20th Century Fox introduced the PG-rated family baseball drama The Sandlot in theaters, where it would go on to gross $32 million stateside. The Hollywood Reporter‘s original review is below.
Taking the field for 20th Century Fox in the kids division of the Spring Break League is The Sandlot, a scrappy charmer about one summer of magic on the baseball diamond. When the box office dust has settled, The Sandlot will put its primary competition, Cop and a Half and The Adventures of Huck Finn, in a pickle.
A scruffy underdog yarn that will appeal not only to kids but also to their thirty- or fortysomething parents — who will find it a captivating nostalgia trip back to the time of Schwinn bikes, PF Flyers and big-chromed cars — this outing touches all the right emotional, comic and human bases. Despite some overly grooved subplots and a narrative that overstretches its reach, The Sandlot, like a team of singles and doubles hitters, will have several productive innings at the box office.
Screenwriters David Mickey Evans and Robert Gunter deftly serve up a number of universal thematic pitches in this family film, revolving primarily on kids’ need to fit in, in a family and among peers. In this nuclear-family, Happy Days-ish storyline, Tom Guiry stars as Scotty, a clean-cut “brain” whose mom (Karen Allen) and stepdad (Denis Leary) have done the worst possible thing well-meaning parents can do to a fifth-grader — move him into a new school two weeks before summer vacation.
While The Sandlot commits minor technical errors — the worst player was always put in right field, not left — it’s a wonderfully uplifting entertainment. Director Evans has the gutty sense to realize that his director’s position is akin to pitching: Like a veteran hurler, he appreciates it’s best to scruff up the narrative ball a little to make the story hum.
Evans gets terrific performances out of his cast, chiefly Guiry, who, as the nice outsider, is pleasingly likable but no goody-two-shoes. Overall, casting director Shari Rhodes has fielded a crack lineup: Patrick Renna, as the mouthy, tubby catcher and Chauncey Leopardi as the nervy, Jeffrey Katzenberg-ish four-eyes of the team, add some goofy wallop to the proceedings.
A tip of the hat to production designer Chester Kaczenski for the great evocation of Americana, circa Aaron, Mays, Wills and Mantle. — Duane Byrge, originally published on April 5, 1993
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