Lifelong friends and lifelong nerds Gus (Rob Schneider), Richie (David Spade), and Clark (John Heder) rally to action one day when they see a young boy, Nelson (Max Prado), bullied on a baseball field by the local teenage team. The trio scare the team away, saving Nelson further embarrassment, and when his father Mel (John Lovitz), an extravagant millionaire, discovers the Samaritan act, he devises a plan to inspire oddballs everywhere. The three friends compete in "Mel's Tournament of Little Baseballers and Three Older Guys", under the moniker of "Benchwarmers", and take on every browbeating prepubescent team in town. Their success sets aglow the spirits of benchwarmers, nerds and outcasts nationwide.
Review by Joel Meares:
Cinematic Armageddon, filmic apocalypse, call it what you will, the three sportsmen of The Benchwarmers herald its arrival. This abysmally static comedy, the brainfart of "the people who brought you Big Daddy" is a mess on every level. Fashioned around a plot that surprises only by its insistence on meeting every prediction we make about its direction, filmed in drab tones by a paralysed camera, with a script featuring eaten boogers in its first page, The Benchwarmers is depressingly woeful.
The film's cardinal sin is its complete waste of the arguably genuine comic talent it has assembled. My fear going in The Benchwarmers, a logical fear for those previously subjected to other Happy Madison productions, was that Schneider, Spade and Heder were such big and often grating personalities, that the screen would not contain them all at once. Yet, The Benchwarmers proves the opposite. The actors cancel each other out, toning down their shtick to make room for their co-stars, and each in the process fading into dull oblivion. The combination I'm sure was meant to snap, crackle, and pop with comic gold, but the reality is as dull as unsweetened porridge.
Spade in particular barely registers as a video clerk. I kept looking at the cases behind him and thinking of the better films I might be watching. Heder, famous as Napoleon Dynamite, offers a silhouette of that character, which without that film's script and clever direction, is less than explosive. The usually manic Schneider, here straightjacketed to play the normal guy, and husband to Molly Sims, is something audiences will not buy.
Something The Benchwarmers hopes you might buy is Pepsi. Rarely has a film so flagrantly exhibited a brand name. You can enjoy Pepsi with friends and at the baseball! I suppose someone has to fund this stuff. Still there is something rotten at the core of this flavourless confection. A movie warm and fuzzy on itself for its message of accepting outcasts, like homosexuals, agoraphobics, and short people, that then draws its humour from laughing at them, deserves neither your money nor time. On the positive side, it is short. For now, I feel like a Pepsi.
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BENCHWARMERS, THE (PG)
CAST: Rob Schneider, David Spade, Jon Heder, Jon Lovitz, Craig Kilborn, Molly Sims, Tim Meadows, Nick Swardson
PRODUCER: Jack Giarraputo, Adam Sandler
DIRECTOR: Dennis Dugan
SCRIPT: Allen Covert, Nick Swardson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Thomas E. Ackerman
EDITOR: Peck Prior, Jay Scully
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Perry Andelin Blake
RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 11, 2006
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: September 27, 2006