So he's perfect a fit for The Benchwarmers, the latest Saturday Night Live alumni comedy from Happy Gilmore, Adam Sandler's production company. Heder does his spaz routine, gets his laughs, and moves on. The same success applies for Schneider and Spade, two guys who should never shoulder a whole movie unless a studio exec has lost a bet. In The Benchwarmers, Schneider (never the world's funniest actor) plays it straight, and Spade's cutting remarks come at amusing intervals. The result is a movie with a nice number of laughs and an encouraging message.
Gus (Schneider), Tommy (Spade), and Clark (Heder) are three neighborhood friends who, with the exception of Gus, don't really have a lot going for them. Tommy works at a video store, has a bowl haircut, and is essentially living a more pathetic version of The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Clark, always wearing a helmet and knee pads, is the world's oldest paper boy aside from Chris Elliott.
When the trio comes to the aid of a nerdy kid hassled by some burly pre-teens, they wind up playing the bullies in a pick-up baseball game. Led by Gus's impressive pitching and hitting, the men demolish the team. The same thing happens the next day, leading the tormented boy's billionaire father (Jon Lovitz) to come up with a plan: He wants the three adults to play in a baseball tournament against the county's Little League teams to prove that geeks and weirdos can beat the jocks.
It sounds terrible, but it works because everything is in proportion, especially that the three leads' comedic talents come in bite-sized portions. Still, writers Allen Covert and Nick Swardson (the guys behind Grandma's Boy) revel in their freak tendencies, whether it's a basement-dwelling pariah making peanut butter eagles or Reggie Jackson smashing mailboxes. (And their take on the Danny Almonte controversy is hilarious.) If that kind of humor is your abode, then welcome home. But what makes The Benchwarmers redeemable over other kicked in the nuts fare is the writers care about the outcasts Gus, Tommy, and Clark play for. Covert and Swardson want these kids to learn what it's like to play ball, to enjoy a game without being ridiculed.
... and if David Spade drop kicks a 12-year-old, even better.
\Ridin' the pine.
Run time: 80 mins
In Theaters: Friday 7th April 2006
Box Office USA: $57.7M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Releasing
Production compaines: Revolution Studios, Columbia Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 11%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 62
IMDB: 5.6 / 10
Director: Dennis Dugan
Starring: Jon Heder as Clark, Rob Schneider as Gus, David Spade as Richie, Jon Lovitz as Mel, Tim Meadows as Wayne, Amaury Nolasco as Carlos, Nick Swardson as Howie, Molly Sims as Liz, Erinn Bartlett as Salad Girl / Sarah, Craig Kilborn as Jerry, John Farley as Swimmer Boy, Bill Romanowski as Karl, Matt Weinberg as Kyle, Reggie Jackson as Himself, Sean Salisbury as Brad, Joe Gnoffo as Marcus Ellwood, Jackie Sandler as Female Customer, Jared Sandler as Autograph Kid, Ray Nicholson as Kid Catcher #1 Game #2, Terry Crews as Poker Guy #1, Patrick Schwarzenegger as Jock Kid Game #3