I will start this review by asking you – my
dearest of all loyal readers – a simple question: What do you like in
The MOVIE DOCTOR is now officially in.
In terms of desired symptoms (things you do look for), would it
be any one of the following?
Images of young, pre-pubescent boys accosting other
pre-pubescent boys, followed by one sticking their rear end directly in
another’s face (while he’s pinned down) and passing gas over his open
Images of young, pre-pubescent boys that have animal
excrement on their faces as the result of yet another accosting
from other pre-pubescent boys.
Images of people eating mass quantities of sun block.
Images of people drinking enough alcohol until they vomit
alcohol on other people.
Images of people picking their noses and then using what
they find in their nasal cavity as a quick, mid-afternoon snack.
Images of crushed beetles that are utilized by someone as
yet another mid-afternoon snack.
Images of offensively stereotyped homosexual men that are
shown running around in their shorts and like to always give massages and
please other men, whether they want it or not.
Images of offensively stereotyped Puerto Rican people that
like to flirt with women, drink lots of beer, and then vomit the beer on
other people (wait…did I cover that already?)
Images of a person getting hit in the crouch by rocks and
other hard instruments of pain.
Images of people urinating in the shower
(wait…okay…the off-screen variety too).
Images of a young boys that have speech impediments that
cause them to spray out saliva on any one that they talk to.
If you answered “yes” to one – or all –
of the criteria mentioned, then the new would-be comedy THE
BENCHWARMERS is definitely for you. I will prescribe one of them
now, but don't call me after you've seen it. However, for all other people that have even a
miniscule amount of humility, pride, and good old fashioned decency…stay
away from this film…far, far
away. Taking it in any small dosage will make you break out into
spontaneous depression and low self-worth.
THE BENCHWARMERS is a film that is so
cataclysmically and superhumanly awful that it seems to defy the very
physics of mediocrity. At the risk of offending any child readers out
there, this movie made me feel like it was pandering down to me as if I
were an ignorant and hopelessly naive five-year-old. Moreover, it simply made me feel stupid and worthless, maybe
kind of like how some desperate men must feel when they fail to find any
other way to gratify themselves other than to go to a $2.00 peep show that
followed by an obligatory lap dance. I felt ashamed of myself for
seeing THE BENCHWARMERS. Very few filmgoing experiences have that sort of
otherworldly and nauseatingly unhealthy prowess. This film sucked the
life out of me and left me yearning to escape the cineplex and seek blue
sky and sunshine to reaffirm that I was not hallucinating on some sort of
despicable, voodoo haze.
This film is – not surprisingly –
straight from the lethargically unfunny filmmaking vaults of HAPPY
MADISON, the production company of Adam Sandler. “Happy” comes from HAPPY
GILMORE, an early, wretched golf comedy starring Sandler. “Madison” comes
from Sandler’s first major comedy, BILLY MADISON, a film that was even
more excruciatingly and annoyingly putrid. I have stated in past reviews
that there has yet to be a film comedy that Sandler has made (either in
front of or behind the camera) that I have liked. THE BENCHWARMERS only
continues HAPPY MADISON’S proud legacy of defecating on the film going
masses. When will someone perpetrate a vile and cruel joke back on these
Sandler – whether it can be seen as a wise
or selfish act or both – decided to stay away from appearing in this
film. There were rumours that he was originally set to star in the film.
Maybe he sensed what a spectacular dude the film was going to be so he
obviously decided to shift creative gears a bit. Make no mistake about
it, THE BENCHWARMERS is about as infantile and stupid as some of Sandler’s
earliest and most terrible pee-pee, poo-poo and bodily fluid laced
screwball comedies. Yet, to make the film even more unbearable and
desolate, he seems to have been determined to provide work for some of
SNL’s most untalented, past performers. THE BENCHWARMERS has a few of
them parade around during its 80 minutes giving them absolutely nothing
interesting or funny to do and say. It was if these guys were desperate,
kind of like those pathetic street bums that lay around sidewalks all day with
signs that say, “Will star in dreadful comedy for food.”
Okay…so there is one member of the main
cast that is not a former SNL'er. He's Josh “NAPOLEON DYNAMITE”
Heder. Here he is amusing here again in very modest, small dosages.
Unfortunately, he’s doing Dynamite-lite in THE BENCHWARMERS, playing yet
another mentally-challenged doofus with an “aw-shucks” demeanor and
goofball likeability. Yet, within a few minutes of the film it soon
becomes apparent that if you want to see him in the same essential role to
vastly funnier effect, rent last year’s
and skip this turd (I am now willing to concede that
my two and a half star rating of that film may be - in hindsight - a bit
too low). I guess this film is not
helping Heder’s career when he is forced to headline in it with the likes
of the unrelentingly talentless Rob Schneider and the less-moronic, but
equally wishy-washy David Spade. Spade himself seems to have a sharp and
sarcastic wit that is far too intelligent for a film like this. The
fact that Schneider plays an essential straight man to both Heder and
Spade is another strike to the film. Then again, it also has former talk
show host Craig Kilborn slumming his way to a fast paycheck as an evil
antagonist to the geeky “heroes.”
The plot itself also does not make much
sense. Just bare with me. Gus (Schneider) witnesses a local
little league bully embarrasses another local nerd youth and decides to do
something about it. He decides to enlist in the help of his friends to
team up with him to play a game against the bullies for all of the wimps
everywhere. He recruits two friends who seem like they have never even
seen a baseball. The first is a paperboy, Clark (Heder) and a 39-year-old
virginal video store clerk, Richie (Spade). And….as for the rest of
the team? That’s it. Just the three of them. Hmmmm…how can a team be
comprised of only three players and manage to go on and play
semi-competitive baseball later in the film is beyond me. Oh…they do
enlist the help of Richie’s brother later on, but he is not much help. He
is agoraphobic and thinks the sun will kill him instantly.
Needless to say, the trio are so poor as a
team that they need help. Enter the richest geek on the planet, Mel (the
comically underused Jon Lovitz) to the rescue. Mel is sort of like the 40-year-old
virgin with Bill Gates’ wallet. He actually owns the original K.I.T.T.
from KNIGHT RIDER as well as the original Batmobile from the 1960’s TV
series, both preserved in mint condition. His mansion is a relative
shrine to the STAR WARS SEXTET (his palace gates have an intercom system
that has a Darth Vader head speaking to them with James Earl Jones’
voice). THE BENCHWARMERS has two dominant product placements; one is for
PIZZA HUT (featured prominently – they must have paid big bucks to be in
the film) and the other is - rather inexplicably - George Lucas’
STAR WARS SAGA. Considering the abysmally terrible quality of this
comedy, the fact that the flannel-shirted one would ever allow the makers
of this film to even had one millisecond of footage that showcased any of
his creations proves to be 2006’s greatest, unsolved movie mysteries.
Honestly…do Sandler and his partners at HAPPY MADISON have dirt to
blackmail Lucas with? Seems that way.
Anyhoo’, Mel helps train the trio with the
help of Reggie Jackson…yes…the real one. His plan is for them is
to play against the nation’s little league teams. Why? To prove
that grown men can beat little boys? Is that something to be necessarily
proud of? Even beyond that is the film’s almost narcissistic level
of violent humor…often perpetrated at children. There is one would-be
hilarious scene where Schneider line-drives a 10-year-old pitcher right in
the chest. The zealot-like audience I was with roared with laughter...at
what I have no idea. Well, they seemed to laugh at the sight of the
kid knocked unconscious to the ground while Schneider paraded around the
bases heroically. Honestly, is a child being maimed into a coma
inherently funny? On top of that, what is funny about a child being
forced – beyond his will – to have another child fart directly on
his open mouth? Call me a staunch conservative, I guess, 'cause that
ain't funny. I pity people that laugh at these sights.
Call me an intellectual snob if you want.
This film feels like it was written by a
child that has not even learned the alphabet yet. The writers' concepts
of what they think an audience will laugh at are sort of disturbing.
There is, I think, a difference between a film being unapologetically
dumb (i.e. –
AIRPLANE) and a film that is
just plain dumb period. The laughs in THE BENCHWARMERS are
targeted at an age group that has not yet developed pubic hair, much of
the laughs are directed at regions of the body that include pubic hair and
other forms of bodily fluids, and the rest of the jokes are a woefully
desperate attempt to tell the world that – gosh darn it – endless
gags about passing gas, chronic saliva spewing, and a homosexual
nymphomaniac are a riot. This film is one big a-bomb of suckage.
THE BENCHWARMERS is not offensively
appalling and awful to warrant my dreaded zero stars rating (only
films that include a woman having a penis for a nose due to a congenital
birth defect as featured in
BIGALOW: EUROPEAN GIGOLO
deserve that low merit). However, it’s not
too far away from being just as nauseating an experience. I can count on
one hand how many times I chuckled throughout the film. Three times to
be exact. The third and final giggle occurred during the film’s
closing end credit bloopers. We see two of the leads talk to one another
and one finally says, “This is a big waste of time.” Is this a line
from a deleted scene or an admission of tragic guilt on the actor’s part?
It must have been the latter.