Over the years I've readily discussed the power of nostalgia and how it influences my reviews. I admit a strong bias for movies that remind me of childhood. These are movies that mean something more to me than just "being a good movie." There's a spirit about them that only grows stronger over time. 'The Sandlot' is one of those films. On the outside it appears to be a simple, lazy summer coming-of-age story, when in reality it remains one of the best friendship focused movies out there this side of 'Stand By Me.'
Matters are helped by the fact that I'm able to drive 20 minutes up the road and see where most of the movie was filmed. Vincent's Drug Store is still there. Taking a tour of where they filmed the entire movie is completely possible where I live. I remember as a kid thinking that was the coolest thing ever. A movie that became a perennial home video classic was filmed right up the street from my house. From there my love for the movie grew even more.
What's interesting is I'm not a baseball fan. I've never really enjoyed watching the sport, but 'The Sandlot' portrays the romance of baseball perfectly, capturing the magic of playing it with a group of friends on a warm summer evening. There's something uniquely American about that experience.
Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) has just moved to a small town with his mom and step-father. He's one of those awkward kids who tries his hardest to impress his friends, but usually ends up embarrassing himself. He soon runs into a rag-tag band of pee wee baseball players led by the somewhat mysterious Benny Rodriguez (Mike Vitar).
What makes 'The Sandlot' infinitely relatable is the fact that we all knew a kid like Benny growing up. A kid who was good at just about everything and a natural leader. A kid that you knew was destined to be the most popular kid in high school and would play as many sports as possible. On the other hand, we probably knew – or acted like – Smalls. He's a kid who's just trying to fit in with a strange situation.
There are so many classic moments in 'The Sandlot.' For fans, each viewing allows for reminiscing about favorite scenes. I know that whenever I watch it with my wife (who absolutely adores it, by the way) it usually turns into a quote-a-long, where we recite most of the memorable lines as they're happening. Having seen it countless times, 'The Sandlot' and its minutia have become engrained in my brain. Not only that, it's still a relevant pop culture reference. Chances are you could go up to a stranger in their 30s and simply say, "Wendy Peffercorn" and they'd know exactly what you're talking about.
The best thing about 'The Sandlot' is that it never gets old. It's easy to pop it in every few months or so and get the exact same enjoyment out of it. It's full of fun, believable characters. It's stitched together like a summer fever dream. An all-American view of a Midwestern childhood during the best friendship-building season of the year.
'The Sandlot' will forever be a favorite in our house. While other movies that may be considered "better" waste away on the shelves, this movie will find its way into the player on a regular basis. I think that's the true measure of a classic.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is essentially the exact same disc that came out in March of 2011. This set comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc and a DVD copy (it's a flipper DVD with one side being full screen and the other wide screen). of the film. They're packaged in a standard Blu-ray keepcase with slightly different artwork than the previous Blu-ray release. If you're into collecting slipcovers then this is the release for you because the slipcover provided here is completely different from the cover art. It's made to look like a baseball with nicely embossed red stitching. Without adding anything significantly new, Fox simply decided to throw in a set of trading cards with the kids' faces on them and a coupon for 10% off some real PF Flyers which are being sold online in conjunction with this release. Finally, it's labeled as a Region A release.
For whatever reason we didn't get a copy of 'The Sandlot' to review back in 2011, so we aren't copying and pasting from another review, even though this is the exact same transfer from that disc. The 1080p presentation provided for this 1993 film looks surprisingly crisp considering catalog titles from the mid-'90s are extremely hit-or-miss.
A lot of care has gone into transferring this to Blu-ray. Detail is a marked improvement over the DVD releases. Individual beads of sweat can be seen forming on people's brows. Dust and dirt has a sharpness to it. Freckles, hair, and Wendy's perfectly formed lips are all presented with stunning clarity.
Eye-popping color is constantly enforced in every scene. The shimmering blue water of the public pool; the crimson of Wendy's lips and lifeguard suit; the multi-colored shirts worn by the group of kids; every color has a nice boldness to it. Grain tends to waver from scene to scene. It gets especially heavy during the special effects sequence when Benny has his dream about Babe Ruth. So, it isn't perfection, but it's pretty darn close for a catalog title from '93.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix packs a much more engrossing soundstage than any of the DVD releases ever did. Here we get a truly immersive audio mix that understands what summer days and nights should sound like.
The pool scene is filled with nicely placed ambient noise. Kids laughing and splashing in the rear channels makes you feel like you're in the middle of the scene. The carnival is another example of surround sound that accomplishes an encompassing feeling.
LFE roars during the fireworks, when the vacuum explodes and when the kids are trying to get the baseball away from the growling Beast. Dialogue is always clear. This is a great sounding audio mix plain and simple.
This is where the special 20th anniversary edition could've shown some real promise. A retrospective feature would've gone a long way for fans, sadly these are the exact same features provided on the last Blu-ray release.
This feels somewhat like a shameless double-dip since Fox didn't add anything remotely interesting to the package. If you already bought the 2011 copy of the film there's no need to pick this one up. However, if you don't yet own it, then you can't go wrong with this movie. With a great audio and video presentation, 'The Sandlot: 20th Anniversary Edition' is recommended, assuming you haven't bought the earlier release.