*** (out of 5)
April 7, 2006
Rob Schneider as GUS
David Spade as RICHIE
Jon Heder as CLARK
Jon Lovitz as MEL
Craig Kilborn as JERRY
Molly Sims as LIZ
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Directed by: Dennis Dugan
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
After hearing the hype about “The Benchwarmers,” you have to feel sorry for Rob Schneider, and you have to feel double sorry for David Spade. These SNL alumni end up playing second – and third – fiddle to break-out comedy genius Jon Heder.
Blame it on the fans, but the “Napoleon Dynamite” star is the name most associated with this film. Sure, Schneider plays the lead and is in the center of the one-sheet, but it is Heder’s raspy deliver and dry wit that steals the best laughs from the trailer and the movie itself. Poor David Spade is hardly recognizable here, and almost forgettable in the film itself.
Ultimately though, I don’t think the film will adversely affect any of their careers – except maybe Heder’s, in a positive way. It shows his strength in comedy to outshine both Schneider and Spade. “The Benchwarmers” is a run-of-the-mill Happy Madison comedy eking out a spring release. It’s full of gross out humor and nerd jokes, so one should be surprised by this movie.
Schneider plays Gus, an average joe with a lawn mowing service. His buddies are Richie (David Spade) the video store clerk and Clark (Jon Heder) an adult paperboy whose mother still makes him dinner every night. They come to the aid of a kid getting beat up on a local ball field and end up playing a skirmish with the bullies. Gus has a hidden talent for both hitting and pitching the baseball, and that leads the three older guys to victory.
Inspired by this triumph of dorks over jocks, the nerds in the town unite. A tournament is organized in which the Benchwarmers (also known as “three older guys”) play the different little league teams in the state.
It’s not great comedy, but it has its moments. Many of these moments you’ve already seen in the trailers, but there’s enough new stuff in the body of the film to make it worth watching if like fart jokes and idiot slapstick. Of course, if you’re more into the Jane Austin adaptations, you’ll want to skip this one.
“The Benchwarmers” is a “Revenge of the Nerds” for a younger audience. While the movie doesn’t reach the level of the first “Nerds” movie, it’s a heck of a lot better than its sequels. At least that says something. After last year’s barrage of “Bad News Bears” rip-offs and remakes, it’s nice to see a film that takes the story in a different direction.
While it’s being promoted as a film for the underdog, it’s definitely got a strong affinity to those of us “Star Wars” geeks who grew up getting teased on the playground. Jon Lovitz plays a nerd that grew up to be a billionaire who funds the Benchwarmers team. His home is a “Star Wars” fan’s wet dream, with posters and memorabilia all around and a live robot butler. Yes, this reeks of crappy plot points from the 1980s, but that’s sort of the point.
To really appreciate the movie, you have to have suffered a bit as a child. The popular kids and the jocks may not relate, but that’s okay. As Louis said in the first “Revenge of the Nerds”: “There’s more of us than there are of you.”