For how good the movie is, some of the effects haven’t aged all that well. For example, some of the shots of fireworks going off on the Fourth of July are clearly stretched horizontally, meaning the movie used stock footage that wasn’t in the same aspect ratio. In addition, there are some clear digital effects used on shots of balls that are flying through the air, which takes away from the sixties aesthetic of the movie a little bit.
Finally, it’s quite obvious that there are animatronics used for The Beast before we fully see the dog. They don’t hold up that well, but it almost works in the movie’s favor – it helped to give the animal an almost mythical quality to both the kids in the movie and the kids watching the movie.
The Original Plan for the Sequels
The two sequels of “The Sandlot” don’t amount to much, but if we had gone the original route that David Mickey Evans had for movies after the original, things might have been a lot better. Evans wanted to have every sequel take place in the next decade – so the first would be in the seventies, the second in the eighties, and so on.
The first actual sequel did take place ten years after the first, but it wasn’t a very good movie other than the introduction of girls to the Sandlot gang. It was pretty much exactly the same movie as the first one, even though some of the people in the list of characters should have known better. After that, the plan fully fell through.
Switching to the Proper Character
Some of the biggest laughs in the entire movie come from the scene when the Sandlot gang plays a real game up against another team of snotty uniformed kids. They end up thrashing the other team, and the whole time Ham hits the opposing batters with hilarious insults that are hard to forget.
In the original script, it was going to be BENNY who was slinging these insults, but Evans eventually realized that it was too out of character for the moral leader of the gang to be slinging those kinds of lines. Ham was the perfect next option, thanks to his established quick wit and big mouth, as well as his position as the team’s catcher – he didn’t even have to raise his voice for the opposing batters to hear him.
The Master of Movies
A lot of people really like “The Sandlot,” and one of those people is none other than perhaps the most famous movie reviewer ever, Roger Ebert. He was a huge fan of the film – he was the first to liken it to a summer version of “A Christmas Story.” He said that it taps directly into a rich vein of nostalgia that makes reality seem puny by comparison. The movie let kids be kids, he said, instead of forcing them to be miniature pro athletes.
It showed the world of imagination that kids have, so different from the hum-drum life that adults so often live in. He went on to mention Rodriguez hitting a line drive at the pitcher’s mound – Ebert apparently dove for cover and held up his mitt, before realizing he didn’t have a mitt and was, in fact, watching a movie.
Playing Under the Fireworks
As Smalls’s narration explains, there was only one night game a year – the Fourth of July, when there were enough fireworks in the sky to give them light to see. The narration says that it made them feel like big leaguers under the bright lights of some great stadium, and it seems like it was a good time for the actors, too.
The entire scene was shot in about two hours – not even as long as a real baseball game usually takes. We don’t know how they actually lit the scene, seeing as the fireworks were stock footage and the production probably could use real fireworks to simulate the festivities, but it went off without a hitch. You have to admit there is something magical about playing ball in the dark.