Tuesday, October 25, 2016

CineMasochism: The Sandlot Heading Home

It's late October, and there are only a handful of baseball games left before the boys of summer pack it in for the winter. The World Series starts tonight, and it looks to be an exciting conclusion to the season, like a phoenix's final burst of glory before it settles into the ashes. However, not everything casts off it's mortal coil in such spectacular fashion. Sometimes a limp death rattle is all that can be mustered as a soul slips away from this realm. Which brings us to the third installment in The Sandlot Trilogy, The Sandlot Heading Home.

Like Jason Voorhees, you may have thought that the idea of Sandlot sequels died after the previous movie. You would be wrong. A mere two years after The Sandlot 2 comes episode three. There is sense in the quick turnaround. The twelve years between the original and part two did not result in a quality product, so why not cut that production time by one-sixth and churn out another one? Unfortunately(?), David Mickey Evans, writer and director of the first two Sandlots, was not on board for that plan and does not return. However, Chauncey Leopardi, AKA Squints, does. So, that's nice.

The plot for Heading Home is . Luke Perry (yes, Luke Perry) plays Tommy "Santa" Santorelli, a professional baseball player who has forgotten what is truly important in baseball and life: teamwork and love of the game. He even gave himself the nickname Santa, because "watching him play is a gift." Another piece of evidence that Santorelli doesn't play The Right Way is that he moves from team to team chasing large contracts, something that is common in all professional sports. The opening scene is set up as a made for TV career retrospective on Santorelli, which describes him as one of the greatest hitters of all time and shoe-in for the Hall of Fame, but only if his ego doesn't get in the way. Right away, the movie shows a disregard for how baseball actually works. Yes, the baseball writers are the people who vote on Hall of Fame inductees, and they have been known to hold grudges, but being a dick would not keep an all-time great hitter out of the Hall of Fame. Also, Perry's swing during action shots looks like garbage.

 Santorelli, playing for the Dodgers, gets knocked out in a combo batting practice-fireworks freak accident. When he wakes up, he's been transported back in time to when he was a kid and is on his back in the middle of the sandlot. All his old buddies are there: Two Ton, D.P., Timber, Wings, the infield duo with the probably racist nickname of Wok and Roll, and Q, which is short for I.Q. Why you would need to shorten I.Q. is never explained. Also, returning are Benny the Jet, who is still in the prime of his career, and Santorelli's dead mom, before she is diagnosed with cancer (Pathos!). Despite his former coach being younger, his mother not being dead, and the appearance of his childhood friends, Santorelli can't understand why every is treating him like a kid and doesn't understand his references to things that don't exist yet. (What's Hip Hop? eBay?) It takes half of the movie for him to stop voice shock that those around him don't share his knowledge of the future. It's easy to play armchair quarterback, but you can bet your bottom dollar that when I experience head-trauma induced time travel, I'm going to be quick on the uptake.

We find out that the Sandlot is in jeopardy, because the city wants to sell it, and the dad of one of the snobby, well-funded little leaguers wants to buy it. It seems that the willingness of the local government to tolerate an unkempt, ramshackle baseball field is directly linked to the quality of baseball being played on said field. This is where young Santorelli comes in. Under the tutelage of Squints and Benny, the sandlot kids have to play against the fancy little leaguers for the rights to the Sandlot. This allows Santorelli to relive his life, changing his outlook on what's important and correcting things he regrets. But not before being tempted by the dark side, only to switch back to the good guys at the last second. Santorelli leads the team to victory, and, via the butterfly effect, makes his adult life better.

Heading Home sports a surprisingly good soundtrack, mostly on the back of The Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz" and Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime." Movies of dubious quality with well known songs baffle me, mostly because I have no concept of the monetary cost to acquire the rights to songs. Any song that I know or enjoy, in my mind, must surely cost $100,000. But how is a direct to video shelling out the cash for Mungo Jerry? IT'S MUNGO JERRY!

How to use The Sandlot Heading Home to be a film snob
You can use it to impress people with your extensive knowledge of Luke Perry and Chris Farley's filmographies.
Key phrases to bandy about
Best Sandlot Sequel.

Sweet lines to help you start The Sandlot Heading Home's cult following
I'll go Tarantino on you so fast, you won't know what hit you.
Tara what?!

Just because I'm husky, doesn't mean I have to play catcher.

Things that bothered me more than they should
The movie uses real MLB team names and uniforms, but, for some reason, the team logos do not appear on the batting helmets. Why not? That would be like making a football movie with real NFL teams and deciding not to put facemasks on the helmets.

The previously mentioned batting practice/fireworks accident happens partly because the fireworks display is being set up in the seats in center field. The fireworks are set up two goofballs who still use lighters and wicks. This is an insane concept. No team would shoot fireworks off where fans are sitting with such rudimentary technology. Unless, in the movie's world, the Dodgers financial woes have spiraled out of control,  driving them to such desperate measures.

Old Benny looks like an off brand Uncle Jesse.

Is it rewatchable?
The Sandlot 2 was hot garbage, so in comparison, yes, Heading Home is rewatchable. However, every time you watch it, you will constantly be aware of the fact that The Sandlot exists, and you should be watching that instead. But it's...fine.