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The Benchwarmers Review

The Benchwarmers should have been left on the bench


By Zach Shevich

                In the latest from Happy Madison Productions (Adam Sandler’s film company), a group of former Saturday Night Live cast members, pro athletes and Napoleon Dynamite…-sorry, John Heder star in the sports comedy The Benchwarmers. In the same style that just about every Happy Madison production uses, the sub-par plot takes a back seat to frat boy antics and stupid laughs. Unfortunately, with each passing film, Happy Madison movies are transitioning from cleverly stupid to just plain stupid. In this flick, the stupidity may be at an all-time low, or it may simply be accented by the terrible acting. Whether it is the bad acting or dumb writing, The Benchwarmers is a film that anyone would be wise to avoid.

            The Benchwarmers’ problems begin its lame story. The movie’s main characters are Clark (Heder), the mentally challenged one, Richie (David Spade), the wisecracking sex-driven loser, and Gus (Rob Schneider), the smartest and most talented of the bunch. When Gus sees a neighborhood loser getting picked on by a kids’ baseball team, he challenges the kids to a game, the nine of them versus Gus, Clark, and Richie. After winning the game, the team is approached by Mel (Jon Lovitz), the father of the neighborhood loser that was being picked on before. Mel, who is “one of those nerds who grew up…and made billions”, finances a tournament for the three-man team, which he names The Benchwarmers, and all the local little league baseball teams full of the kids who pick on the losers. How this works out is a concept not even worth addressing, however the three agree and the tournament begins. The rest of the movie is primarily made up of four running jokes: gay jokes, child abuse, Spade being hit by baseballs, and Heder’s inability to swing a baseball bat. Ignoring the gay jokes (for now), one must wonder how many times one can watch Heder swing away and throw his bat through a windshield or at a tree, and how many times one can watch Spade get hit with a baseball, and how many times it is funny to watch a child get hurt. After a short time, the novelty value wears thin and viewers will be left wondering just exactly how long the movie plans to sustain itself without further advancing its plot. The answer? Eighty minutes.

            Further deteriorating the movie’s quality is its bad acting. Leaving the bad child actors alone, there are many poor performances the comedians. Heder is playing Napoleon Dynamite again, just like he did in the film Napoleon Dynamite and Just Like Heaven. Spade hasn’t really been his best since his days with the late Chris Farley ended. Although, it is Rob Schneider who is the worst of the bunch. For the first time in a long time, he is not playing someone strange or in a strange position like he did The Animal, The Hot Chick, Duece Bigalow, and The Stapler (sorry, that last one was just a joke on South Park). When he talks, it looks like he finds it difficult to say anything with confidence and knowledge of what is coming out of his mouth. The two-time Razzie nominee (and one time winner) destroys any semi-dramatic scene he is in and therefore discredits it. Surprisingly, he is bested by very small cameo rolls from people like Bill Romanowski (a former football player), Dan Patrick (an ESPN reporter), and especially the great Terry Crews (Everybody Hates Chris, White Chicks). The film as a whole might be more respectable and better if it were not for tired old performances from the stars.

What kills the film is the far too repetitive use of gay jokes. Personally, as someone who views himself as a heterosexual male, it was offending at how persistent the filmmakers were in using the typecast homosexual male in an unfunny way. Perhaps it may simply be the slew of Brokeback Mountain jokes the American public has had to endure over the past few months, but the gay jokes have got to stop eventually. This analysis is not to say that every single joke about homosexuals is not funny, as long as one has an open mind and is not easily offended. This criticism merely suggests that there are funny gay jokes, and none of them are in this film.

Tired old jokes and performances that have all lost any of the novelty value that they once had further impede a stupid story in the waste of money more commonly known as The Benchwarmers. It is disappointing that Happy Madison Productions, which in recent memory has brought forth some modern day comedy classics, has arrived at such lows. While The Benchwarmers does provide a couple chuckles, the lack of any real belly laughs means it only deserves 2.5 out of 10.

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