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THE BENCHWARMERS ($29) is just the kind of crude, vulgar, tasteless, feel good comedy that one should expect from Adam Sandlerís Happy Madison Productions. Featuring Sandlerís fellow Saturday Night Live alumni Rob Schneider, David Spade and Jon Lovitz, plus Napoleon Dynamite himself Jon Heder, THE BENCHWARMERS tells the heartwarming story of three grown up nerds, who form their own baseball team to take on the bullies of little league.

Gus (Rob Schneider) is the ringer with all the talent, while his sidekicks Richie (David Spade) and Clark (Jon Heder) lend what little assistance they can to help stand up for the kids, who canít stand up for themselves against baseball playing bullies. Although Gus, Richie and Clark initially take on a single team for an impromptu game to teach the bullies a lesson, the three soon find themselves with "corporate backing" in the form of an uber-rich nerd named Mel, who stages a tournament for our heroes against the little league teams that wonít allow his son to play. Sure the plot is completely ridiculous and the humor sophomoric, but I laughed quite a bit during the filmís brief eighty minute running time. In addition to our leads, the cast of THE BENCHWARMERS also features Craig Kilborn, Molly Sims, Tim Meadows, Nick Swardson, Erinn Bartlett, Amaury Nolasco, Bill Romanowski, Sean Salisbury, Matt Weinberg, John Farley and Reggie Jackson.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made THE BENCHWARMERS available on DVD in a 1.85:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The transfer is fairly good looking, but THE BENCHWARMERS is far from demonstration material. Sharpness and detail are average, with close-ups registering better than long shots. Colors have good saturation and appear stable enough. Blacks are accurate, as are the whites. Contrast is more than respectable and shadow detail is just fine. The film elements are clean and noticeable grain is never a problem. Digital compression artifacts are usually well contained.

THE BENCHWARMERS comes with a fairly standard comedy mix on its Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Most of the sound is localized to the forward soundstage, while the surrounds provide mostly general ambience and musical fill, as well as an occasional active sound effect. Fidelity is strong and musical integrity is solid throughout. The bass channel does little beyond keeping things from sounding anemic. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the filmís dialogue is always completely understandable. French and Portuguese 5.1, plus Spanish and Thai 2.0 channel tracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. THE BENCHWARMERS features two separate running audio commentaries; the first is with director Dennis Dugan, while the second includes actors David Spade and Jon Heder. Nerds Vs. Bullies runs more than five minutes and features interview footage of various members of the cast and crew who talk about, among other things, if they were a nerd or a bully. Mr. October is an eight-minute tribute to baseball legend Reggie Jackson, who plays a pivotal role in the film. Play Ball spends six minutes with various members of the cast and crew who share their feelings on the game. Who's on Deck? is a two minute montage of Howie's greatest moments. Four Deleted Scenes and a number of bonus trailers close out the extras.

THE BENCHWARMERS is a perfectly enjoyable eighty-minute time waster, which will appeal to fans of the other movies that have come out of Adam Sandlerís Happy Madison Productions. Sonyís DVD looks and sounds nice enough and renting it now is certainly better than waiting for pay-per-view.



The Benchwarmers (2006)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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