Back in the early ’90s, Wilkes-Barre native David Mickey Evans hit a pair of home runs when he sold his screenplays for “Radio Flyer” and “The Sandlot” for more than $1 million apiece.
Evans didn’t stay in the zone for long. In 1991, he was replaced as the director of “Radio Flyer” by “Superman” helmer Richard Donner. The film was largely reshot, but it still bombed with audiences and critics alike when it was released in 1992. A year later, though, Evans made his comeback with “The Sandlot” and scored a big hit at the box-office.
Now available in a nifty, 20th-anniversary Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, “The Sandlot” (1993, Fox, PG, $20) has aged surprisingly well. The action is set in 1962 and follows fifth-grader Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) as he tries to adjust to life in Florida with his mom (Karen Allen) and new stepdad (Denis Leary).
No sooner does Scotty arrive in town than he’s recruited by some neighborhood kids (Mike Vitar, Patrick Renna and Chauncey Leopardi) for their ragtag baseball team. Every day, the pals head off to a dilapidated sandlot, where they spend hours just playing the game.
With his vibrant, episodic screenplay, Evans avoids many of the clichés of sports movies. There’s no big game, no weepiness, no cringe-inducing life lessons learned.
During the film’s second half, the action is mostly devoted to the kids’ attempts to retrieve a Babe-Ruth-signed baseball from the yard of a man (James Earl Jones) with a big, snarling dog.
Sure, these comedy sequences are a smidge too broad. But Evans gets so much right about adolescence and the joys of baseball that “The Sandlot” is never less than a charmer.