If Judge Dennis Prince could somehow return to his boyhood of 1976, he'd skip the baseball action and go after that little hottie from his seventh-grade science class.
If you had it to do over again, what would you choose: fame or friendship?
Wildly successful yet completely self-absorbed baseball superstar Tommy "Santa" Santorelli takes a pitch to his head and is rendered unconscious. When he awakens, he has somehow been transported back 30 years to his childhood where, as a 12-year-old boy, he struggles to understand what has happened. Befriended by the kids of the sandlot, Tommy reluctantly helps them with their questionable baseball skills as he recognizes he is reliving the moments and events that made him a superstar. When a town developer wants to raze the lot to make way for profitable condominiums, Tommy is faced with deciding between team loyalty and personal gain. Ultimately, the fate of the lot comes down to whoever wins the little league title and Tommy needs to decide for which team he'll play.
With that plotline, this second sequel to the excellent The Sandlot looks ready to deliver the goods. The adult Santorelli is a big deal worth big bucks to his Los Angeles Dodgers but his success has cost him his friends and his own wife. He's a bitter fellow who vents his life's frustrations through his insufferable attitude of contempt for all others. So when he amazingly returns to his childhood on the sandlot, he's still aware of his adult accomplishments and wants only to return to his present-day lifestyle. The movie, then, spends its time trying to break through Santorelli's selfishness and challenge him to reassess what he did as a youngster to gain what he acquired as an adult.
The problem with this installment in the Sandlot oeuvre is that the acting and direction hit a foul ball this time around. Director William Dear (Harry and the Hendersons) has taken the canvas chair this time and, while he does seem eager to emulate the style of the first film, it all just looks like a retread here. He uses plenty of close-ups on the young actors, eager to capture their emerging emotions, but the kids simply aren't talented enough to help Dear pull it off. Keanu Pires is best among the kids but he plays the single note of a pissed-off adult in a boy's body. Unfortunately, he doesn't play it well enough. The rest of the kids can only perform as well as if in a grammar school review. Given the bulk of the film is set in 1976, the kids just don't have the proper demeanor nor dialect to be convincing. Ultimately, it's a stilted effort that just won't entertain as much as the first film did.
Coming as yet another direct-to-video sequel to the original, The Sandlot 3—Going Home is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Given only a pre-release screener was made available for this review and not a preferred commercial-quality disc, I can only hope the final product doesn't look as inferior as this mess. The transfer wavers in detail and color saturation but is most annoyingly afflicted by mosquito noise and macroblocking. If this is representative of what Fox ultimately released to consumers on May 1, then it's advisable this one be avoided. The audio likewise strikes out with a 5.1 mix that is severely imbalanced. While the dialog is always clear and intelligible, the collection of 70s-era pop songs are sadly squelched and squandered in a faint background score. With hopes the 2.0 Stereo mix might fare better, I found the same imbalance there, squeezed into the front channels. As for extras, this pre-release screener included "Side One" extras including a rather stilted interview with legendary relief pitcher "Goose" Gossage, a deleted scene, short blooper reel, and storyboard gallery. The "Side Two" extras weren't available for review given this was a single-sided pre-release screener.
While this court is not in the practice of trying juvenile cases, it does determine the adults involved with the making of this film and this particular incomplete piece of evidentiary media, the verdict can only be "guilty."
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Scales of Justice
• Interview: "For the Love of the Game: Sharing Memories with 'Goose' Gossage"
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