The Benchwarmers is the kind of movie that is made to make people laugh and feel good. There isn't some big message going on in this film, it's not going to bring about World Peace and it probably will be forgotten a few months after it opens theatrically. That said, it isn't a bad movie. There are many laughs, many moments where you will throw up your hands and just not know what to think and also a few moments of calculated realness. By that I mean, moments where we can see that our stars in the movie aren't really as moronic or inept as they appear to be. In short, The Benchwarmers is a good, fun ride for all those who wish to take it.
The story is a simple one. Gus (Rob Schneider), Richie (David Spade) and Clark (Jon Heder) defend Nelson (Max Prado) when he is being picked on at a local baseball field. Nelson just happens to the son of Mel (Jon Lovitz), a billionaire who decides to sponsor a baseball team consisting of Gus, Richie and Clark. Their goal is "to exact revenge against the bullies of the world" when they play other children's teams in a tournament. Whichever team wins will get to own "the greatest stadium ever built." And so we see three men, who were "benchwarmers" when they kids, become a symbol and "inspiration to benchwarmers everywhere."
This film walks a real tight rope between being a kids film and an adult movie. There is just enough levity and family values that one could pass this off as a kid's movie. However, there are a lot references and innuendoes that will certainly sit well (or not) with adult members of the audience. This movie does have a PG-13 rating "for crude and suggestive humor, and for language," so it isn't like parents haven't been warned. Honestly, I really found The Benchwarmers to be a movie whose heart is in the right place. It insults everyone equally and at the same time it does have some genuinely funny moments. In fact, I even found there to be a Scary Movie aspect to this film, as far as the comedy is concerned.
The cast all do good work here. David Spade walks that tightrope very well of being a dork, but also being quick with the quips and other comments. Jon Heder seems to be doing a happier version of the character he perfected in Napoleon Dynamite. Jon Lovitz as Mel is the rich man who makes everything seem possible. Personally, I always think that Lovitz is good and based on what he's said in a recent news article on this site, I look forward to seeing his work in Richard Kelly's Southland Tales. Lastly, it was really interesting seeing Rob Schneider play normal as Gus in this film. Granted, The Benchwarmers version of normal is probably a bit different than the rest of the world's, but I think you get the point I am making.
There is something very fresh and positive about this movie. I honestly think it is going to do well theatrically and on home video. I think that this film taps into that whole little league, after school sports mentality and who knows, this film could have a long life as a movie that kids watch on Saturday night after their Saturday baseball games? I know that it is not cool to take a Rob Schneider movie seriously, but with all the other options out there (both studio and independent), one could do a whole lot worse than taking their family (or a group of friends) to watch The Benchwarmers.