Blu-ray Review: The Sandlot (20th Anniversary Edition)

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Let’s get this out of the way up front. The anniversary edition of The Sandlot is the same Blu-ray that was released in 2011. The only things distinguishing it are new cover art, a slipcover, and a selection of baseball cards (with the cast members’ pictures) inserted in the case. Otherwise this is the same transfer, the same DTS-HD mix, and the same nearly nonexistent special features. Anyone looking for new material to accompany this baseball yarn is sadly out of luck. Fox should’ve looked to Disney’s recent reissue of Heavyweights for an example of exactly how to treat a catalog title from roughly the same time period and genre.

As for the movie itself, I realize The Sandlot has developed quite a loyal fan base over the last two decades. This is entirely understandable for younger children, who I’m sure continue to be tickled pink by the antics of Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) and his friends during the summer of 1962. Scotty’s parents are played by Denis Leary and Karen Allen, while James Earl Jones turns up near the end for a key cameo. Most of the action takes place on the neighborhood ball field, with inept Scotty learning a thing or two about throwing a baseball from Benny Rodriguez (Mike Vitar). The boys’ main adversary is a gigantic English mastiff that lives behind the field, gobbling up any balls that happen to make it over the fence. Lots of urban legends have cropped up around the dog and its owner, with less dramatic truths revealed in the third act.

The intent of writer-director David Mickey Evans was clearly to mine a vein of nostalgia similar to A Christmas Story and Stand By Me. Unfortunately, Evans left out all the emotional weight of those two classics and upped the cloying cutesiness quotient to a level I find intolerable. As stated, I don’t begrudge kids for enjoying this. I can see how parents might enjoy it because their kids do. But honestly, this is a slight tale of summer fun where hardly anything ever goes wrong—and what does (such as the loss of Scotty’s stepdad’s prized Babe Ruth-autographed ball) is easily remedied by a convenient plot twist.

The 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer is acceptable. An apparent avoidance of noise reduction means there’s a level of grain appropriate for a film of its era. While clarity is generally strong, there are some minor edge enhancement halos visible occasionally. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix handles the very modest demands of the sound design quite well. David Newman’s score and the period tunes like “Green Onions” are well integrated. The dialogue never presents a problem.

As previously mentioned, there’s nothing here to whet fans’ appetites in terms of supplements. No “where are they now” with the cast, no commentary by director David Mickey Evans, no newly uncovered deleted scenes, and certainly no The Sandlot 2 (the first direct-to-video sequel, also written and directed by Evans). It’s just the same waste-of-space promo piece and a handful of trailers and TV spots from the previous Blu-ray. A standard DVD is also included in the package. Maybe someday fans of The Sandlot will get a more comprehensive special edition, but this ain’t it.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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