Schneider, Spade should ride the pine in ‘The Benchwarmers’

Andrew Gaug

Rob Schneider stars as Gus in the new film, The Benchwarmers. COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

There are two types of people who will see The Benchwarmers – those who expect the usual jokes associated with a movie produced by Adam Sandler and those who think it will contain something of redeeming value. This movie is for the former. For those of you who are turned off by jokes about bodily functions and getting hit in the nuts – this movie is not for you.

Benchwarmers is brought to you by the director of Big Daddy and Saving Silverman and the writing team behind this year’s already forgotten Grandma’s Boy. It takes every clich‚ and joke used in Sandler’s other 12 movies, and turns it into a film that feels more like a set of gags than a cohesive piece of work. Some scenes are thrown together based around blatant product placements, fart jokes or a pointless romantic subplot.

The film teams the usual Sandler-film alumni David Spade and Rob Schneider with Napoleon Dynamite‘s Jon Heder as a group of guys that didn’t grow up and are stuck working dead-end jobs. After seeing a baseball team bully a kid named Ned, the men stand up for him and challenge the team to a baseball game in which they end up winning. Coincidentally, Ned’s father (Jon Lovitz) is a billionaire who decides to organize a tournament where the three guys will play Little League teams and the winner gets a multi-million dollar stadium.

Hilarity ensues. Odds are overcome. It’s fairly standard fare.

The problem with Benchwarmers is not that there’s anything wrong with some juvenile humor, but that the pacing is all wrong. Sometimes the camera will loom on Heder or Spade for too long after a joke is delivered as if to intentionally give the audience some hint to laugh. This would work if all the jokes were funny, but when some fall flat, it allows for some awkward scenarios. The intentional gross-out jokes such as Heder’s character licking the entrails of beetle that got smashed on a baseball or enjoying the smell of someone else’s fart are more gross than hilarious.

The Benchwarmers

Starring Rob Schneider, David Spade, Jon Heder, Jon Lovitz

Directed by Dennis Dugan

Rated PG-13 for crude and suggestive humor and language

Stater rating (out of five): ??

However, the movie has some redeeming qualities. As shameful as it is to laugh at someone passing gas, an occasional fart joke never loses its luster. David Spade plays his usual smart-mouthed character and gets the wittiest jokes in the movie. Most surprising is Rob Schneider’s performance. Granted, you won’t be seeing his name mentioned for an Oscar, but he gives a believable, toned-down performance as a guy who wants to right his wrongs. Sadly, Heder’s performance is too close to that of Napoleon Dynamite – even though he has more expression, it’s still the same basic character that made him famous.

Clocking in at just 80 minutes long, it ends before the audience realizes they’ve been laughing at things they probably would have thought humorous when they were in elementary school. While the running time seems like it would be too short, it’s just right for this film because it doesn’t overstay its welcome and beat the good jokes it has into the ground.

In the end, the audience will leave the theater remembering they laughed, but probably won’t recall why.

Contact ALL correspondent Andrew Gaug at [email protected].