Apparently, I spent most of my childhood living under a rock.
It was a PBS, “go-play-outside”- shaped rock, but a rock nonetheless.
This means that when you try to talk to me about mid-90s Nickelodeon programming, I’ll just stare into the middle distance. The Simpsons? I wasn’t allowed to watch it because Bart was “a smart aleck.” I saw The Goonies for the first time at age 22 and – let me tell you – that skeleton piano does not play well to English majors who take themselves very seriously.
All this is to say: I was not expecting much from The Sandlot.
If it was anything like my viewing of The Goonies, I anticipated rolling my eyes a lot, cringing at racist jokes, and annoying my fellow viewers by pointing out holes in the plot.
Instead, I was charmed and endeared and found myself getting a teeny, tiny bit misty-eyed.
If you’re unfamiliar with The Sandlot, the plot is super simple and a straight forward. A sweet, nerdy boy named Scotty Smalls moves to a new neighborhood with his mom and newly minted step-dad. Stepdad promises to teach boy to catch but is usually too busy. Boy discovers group of neighborhood kids who play baseball every day in a nearby sandlot. Bonding and coming of age ensue, as well as hijinks involving lost baseballs, a terrifying dog, and an assumed-to-be-mean-and-creepy neighbor.
Of course, our young hero makes friends and becomes slightly less nerdy. Our scrappy sandlot team beats the snotty, established baseball team who wear uniforms. The terrifying dog is just a St. Bernard who likes to stockpile the balls that come over the fence and the Boo Radley-ish neighbor is none other than James Earl Jones! And he was a famous baseball player before he went blind! And he just wants to be buddies and talk about baseball and give our heroes a priceless baseball signed by “Murderers’ Row,” several of the best Yankee hitters in the late 1920s!
Here’s the thing about watching a decently-made kids movie as an adult:
the things you’d fail to notice as a child get you in The Feels this time around.
When Smalls awkwardly asked his stepdad (a young Dennis Leery?!!) to play catch? OH LITTLE BUDDY YOU’RE GETTING ME IN MY STEPMOM HEART.
When he made his list of “Things I need to learn about baseball? I FEEL YOU FELLOW SCHOOL NERD AND LIST MAKER.
And the bit at the end? Where the narrator updated us on the adult lives of each character? And Benny and Smalls are still friends? Well, as someone who’s known her best friend since fifth grade, I get it Smalls. I get it.
So if you haven’t seen The Sandlot yet, go watch it.
Even if you didn’t spend your childhood living under a PBS-shaped rock.
What are childhood movies do you love? Which ones do you think can stand up to an adult viewing?