Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review! Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different classic from the Nerdosphere. This week Dave and Patrick celebrate baseball playoff season by reviewing the classic 90s flick The Sandlot.
The Flick: The Sandlot
What’s it About: Scotty Smalls is a smart middle schooler who just moved into a new neighborhood. When his mother encourages him to leave his room and try to make some friends, Scotty discovers a group of kids who spend their summer days playing baseball in an abandoned sandlot. Friendships are born and they work together when Scotty gets them all in the biggest pickle any of them had ever seen.
Metacritic Score: 55
The Nerds’ Take on The Sandlot (1993):
Patrick: In the 90’s filmmakers had this strange obsession with making movies involving kids and sports. And perhaps the king of all kids in sports films is The Sandlot, the film in this week’s review. As Major League baseball enters its only fitting we review a baseball movie. But, The Sandlot is so much more than a baseball flick. It’s snapshot into the simple joy of a childhood summer. The film follows young Scotty Smalls, a bookish middle schooler who is new in town and seems more interested in his erector set than anything else. When his mother encourages him to leave the house and make some friends, Scotty discovers a goup of eight boys his age who spend their summer days playing baseball in an abandoned sandlot. Their leader is a talented young boy named Benny Rodriguez, who takes Scotty under his wing and welcomes him into the group. From there we get a montage of summer hijinks including baseball, swimming pools and sleepovers all in the back drop of 1960s suburbia. The film culminates in the boys attempting to retrieve a baseball owned by Sotty’s stepfather from a neighbor’s yard. Why all the effort? Well, the ball was autographed by Babe Ruth.
The Sandlot is interesting because it really tells two stories in one. The first half of the film is really about Scotty’s efforts to fit in with his newfound friends and we see the relationships between the boys grow. They go through all sorts of mini adventures together and really form a bond. By the time Scotty gets them all into the biggest pickle any of them had ever seen (the movies second plot), the audience believes that any one of the eight will do anything to help the ninth. The gang even forgives Scotty for lying to them all about not knowing who Babe Ruth was.
I initially described this movie as a montage of moments and scenes and those scenes are where the movie finds its charm. Most of the scenes are good, but I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that scene at the swimming pool doesn’t age well. I’m sorry tricking a woman into believing you are drowning to then forcibly kiss her isn’t cool. It’s creepy. The other scenes from the kids’ summer really do hold up pretty well, and the Fourth of July scene is particularly great. It’s just beautifully shot, and the faces of the kids as they look away from the game to see the fireworks just gets me every time. Yes, I know it’s horribly schmaltzy and manipulative, I don’t care. When they start playing Ray Charles in the background I still get chills. I love that scene so much, I watch The Sandlot every Fourth of July.
There are some pretty famous adults cast as the authority figures in The Sandlot such as Karen Allen, Dennis Leary, and James Earl Jones. But the heart and soul of this movie is in the children. Under the direction of David Mickey Evans, these children capture the purity of a summer vacation, whiling the days away with your friends. Children and adults alike can watch this film and enjoy it because it speaks to multiple generations. Children enjoy the moments for what they are, and adults enjoy the moments for what they were. To me, you really can’t go wrong with this movie and I know I will keep watching it for years to come.
Patrick’s Rating: 4.75/5
Dave Despite the oddity that has been the 2020 MLB Season, the World Series is roughly a week away. It only makes sense that for this week’s Nerd Review, we revisited one of the best baseball movies ever, 1993’s The Sandlot. Geared towards young males and families, The Sandlot has remained one of the most beloved movies of its time for 27 years now for very good reasons.
In case you are one of the few who have not seen The Sandlot it is, at its core, a movie about friendship and the power of friendship. Scott Smalls has just moved to the San Fernando Valley, but has done so right at the end of the school year. It looks like he will go into the summer not having time to have made any friends. But he is befriended by Benny Rodriguez, a baseball prodigy of sorts. Benny teaches Scott how to play baseball and helps him get accepted by the other seven kids who make up the team that plays a never-ending game of baseball at a sandlot. The sandlot is adjacent to a junkyard that is inhabited by The Beast who, in actuality, is an English Mastiff. As is often the case with kids, they have embellished rumors they have heard about The Beast and he is now regarded as a legendary, fearsome killer of kids and hoarder of baseballs that have been hit into the junkyard. Once Scott is accepted by the group, he gets quite good at the American Pastime. So good, in fact, that he belts a baseball into the junkyard. The problem is that the baseball in question was one that Scott swiped from his step-father’s trophy room, signed by none other than Babe Ruth himself. The final third of the movie is all about the kids trying to retrieve the priceless ball from The Beast, which leads to some of the funniest moments of the movie.
There are too many timeless moments, scenes, and dialogue in this movie to summarize here. Possibly the best line of the movie….”You’re killing me Smalls”….can be found on T-Shirts in just about any Target or Wal-Mart you want. The exchange of insults between the Sandlot kids and a group of uppity kids with actual baseball uniforms is tremendously funny. The scene where Squints feigns drowning so that he can get mouth to mouth resuscitation from lifeguard Wendy Peffercorn is one of the most iconic scenes in any baseball movie ever. Plus, the movie taught many of us what Smores were, the dangers of chewing tobacco while riding rides at a carnival, the legend of PF Flyers, and reminded us all of just how awesome a holiday the 4th of July was when we were kids and did not have the weight of our own little worlds on our shoulders. In fact, that is one of the facets of The Sandlot that makes it so exceptional. You can watch it with your kids and it will mean one thing to them, but will likely remind you of a simpler, and more innocent, time when time was all we had and that was a good thing.
As far as the cast is concerned, the kids were all excellent but the star power was on the adult side of things with Karen Allen and Dennis Leary playing Scott’s parents and the incomparable James Earl Jones playing Mr. Mertle, who turns out to be a former baseball player who played with the Great Bambino and who saves Scott’s bacon in the end. Similar to Scott Pilgrim Vs The World from last week, The Sandlot has become somewhat of a cult classic, really hitting its stride after it was released on home video and more people got to see it. It is a charming, coming-of-age movie that showcases the purity of childhood and baseball and tells a really fun and entertaining story along the way. There have been some largely forgettable sequels that seemed to try way too hard to capture the magic of the original. That issue aside, if you are looking for an excellent baseball movie with a lighter theme, The Sandlot will leave you quite satisfied.
Dave’s Rating: 4.5/5
Overall Nerds Rating for The Sandlot (1993): 4.6/5
Bandwagon Nerds #63: So Many Theories, So Little Time
The Nerds entertain WandaVision theories, discuss another likely Black Widow delay, gush over the first Godzilla v Kong trailer, and much more.
The Nerds entertain WandaVision theories, discuss another likely Black Widow delay, gush over the first Godzilla v Kong trailer, and much more.
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After only three Episodes, WandaVision has the Nerdosphere abuzz with theories and conjecture. It seems that every hour, a new theory is put forward as to what exactly is happening on the latest and greatest show on Disney+. This week, the BWN Crew explores some of those theories…and maybe even adds a few of their own. Plus, the gang discuss another likely delay for Black Widow, the release of the first Godzilla v Kong trailer, Paramount entering the streaming service competition, casting news for She-Hulk, another intriguing Marvel original series on the horizon, the original Muppet Show coming to Disney+, and much more.
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Join Patrick O’Dowd, David Ungar, and a rotating cast of guests as they keep everyone up on all things nerd, and maybe add some new nerds along the way. It’s the Bandwagon Nerds Podcast!
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BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: WarGames (1983)
The Nerds tackle WarGames! The movie from 1983, not the wrestling match. Global Thermonuclear War sounds like a fun game! Right?
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review! Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different classic from the Nerdosphere. This week Dave and Patrick review 1983’s classic WarGames!
The Flick: WarGames
What’s it About: Underachiever David Lightman has no interest in school, but loves the world of computers. When David finds a backdoor into a computer system named Joshua filled with interesting games. David thinks he’s stumbled onto a fun distraction and chooses to start a game called “Global Thermonuclear War”. What David doesn’t know is that his discovery is much more dangerous than he could ever imagine.
Metacritic Score: 77
The Nerds’ Take on WarGames (1983):
Patrick: “Would you like to play a game?” That’s the question asked of David Lightman when he stumbles into the computer system of an unknown game company in the 1983 film War Games. What follows is a film that introduced many audiences to the concept of computer hacking, pushed the noton of artificial intelligence and tapped into the public’s fears of a Nuclear War with Russia during the Cold War. Loaded with tension, WarGames holds its audience throughout with a climactic scene that is as visually stunning as it is intense.
David Lightman is a bright, but underachieving teenager more interested in his computer than he is at achieving academically. David has learned how to use his modem to find his way into various computer systems (including his school’s system) and looking for ways to manipulate things to his benefit. One day after purposely being sent to the principal’s office so he can steal some passwords, David encounters his classmate Jennifer who takes an interest in David and his skill with the computer. One David learns of a game company on the verge of releasing some new games and decides to try and break into their system and play the new games before they are released. While searching for a way into these various systems, David’s computer comes across a system he can’t seem to enter. Intrigued, David discovers a “back door” into the system, where he comes across various innocuous game titles…and one called “Global Thermonuclear War.” David, thrilled to have a new game to play, starts a round as Russia and immediately launches an attack on the United States. Miles away at NORAD, David’s game registers as a legitimate attack from Russia and the military personnel begin to launch a response. Fortunately, a technician figures out it is a simulation and convinces the military to stand down.
After the incident is resolved, the Government eventually tracks down David and brings him in for questioning. While in custody, David discovers that the computer, now known as Joshua, is still playing the game David and the Government thought was stopped. The computer continues to escalate and execute its strategies, resulting in the United States and Russia gearing up for an attack and retaliation. David, realizing something must be done to stop Joshua, seeks out the computer’s original programmer to try and stop the computer from launching World War 3.
War Games is a fascinating window into the fears and uncertainties of its time. Computers were still relatively novel in the consciousness of the American people and the idea that one could be infiltrated and possibly cause a world war was terrifying. Complicated by the tensions between Russia and the United States, War Games is adept putting the audience on edge. Given the film is nearly 40 years old (YIKES!), things naturally extraordinarily dated. Younger viewers will undoubtedly be curious as to what a modem is and why people are putting quarters into a phone to use it. But for its time, the technology is cutting edge. Nowadays the idea of hacking is commonplace. One scene that has aged well, though is the final scene in the heart of NORAD. In an effort to show the computer Joshua the futility of war, David forces the game to play itself. As it does so, all of these oversized monitors start running simulations. The audience is assaulted with a dazzling display of light and color that even today is still quite powerful.
The movie’s cast is carried by young Matthew Broderick, still three years away from his turn as Ferris Bueller. Broderick does really, really well playing a kid in waaaaay over his head, desperately trying to convince hardened federal agents he is not a spy. Years before her turn in the Breakfast Club, Ally Sheedy plays Jennifer. The great Dabny Coleman plays head programmer McKittrick. In true Coleman fashion, he plays the role of slimy asshole better than anyone. My favorite cast member though is the great Barry Corbin in the role of General Beringer. Corbin goes from exasperated to stoic at the turn of a dime. When the threat ultimately passes (38 year spoiler alert) he nearly melts into his seat with relief and the audience can feel the tension leave him.
I have a soft spot in my heart for War Games. While much of the movie is dated by today’s standards, it was far ahead of its time in its portrayal of the act of hacking. While it would be lovely to think that the World is nowhere near a third World War, it seems we may be as close as ever. WarGames ends with a great sense of relief in a war avoided, but it also shows how fragile maintaining a peace can be. While I don’t think the path to such a conflict would necessarily happen the way it did in WarGames, the threat is sadly still very much a reality. Watch this movie for the nostalgia, the dated technology, the strong cast and its dynamite finally. It hasn’t aged perfectly, but WarGames still has some punch.
Patrick’s Rating: 3.78/5.0
Dave As a teenager growing up in the suburbs of Washington D.C in 1983, WarGames hit home on many levels. This was a time when the Cold War was still very hot and living at Ground Zero, we were all keenly aware of the very real threat of nuclear Armageddon that hung over humanity on a disturbingly regular basis. WarGames played upon this reality as well as any movie of its era and it is still one of my absolute favorites.
The general plot of WarGames revolves around the idea that when faced with the reality of turning a key and ending the lives of millions of other humans, the humans in the silos might not have the stomach to press that proverbial button. So, the US Government decides to remove the men from the loop and have a computer, the W.O.P.R., be completely in charge of the USA’s nuclear response in the event of a nuclear strike from the USSR. Meanwhile, David Lightman, a high school genius of sorts and computer wizard at the dawn of home computer technology, is busy using his computer knowledge to change his biology grades and avoid summer school. He gets wind of a new lineup of games from a company called Protovision and he decides to try and find the Protovision computer so he can, in essence, hack into it and play those games before anyone else can. Instead, he stumbles across a remote connection to the W.O.P.R machine and learns all about the man who developed it, Professor Stephen Falken. Using a password that Professor Falken created as a backdoor to W.O.P.R., David gets into the Defense Department’s computer system and decides to play a game called Global Thermonuclear War. The problem is that the game is not a game at all and the aspect of W.O.P.R. that has learning capabilities, also known as Joshua, conducts such a convincing simulation that it convinces the military that the simulation is real. This leads the world to the brink of World War III and a race against time as David and his girlfriend, Jennifer, try to convince Professor Falken to let the military know what is really going on before it is too late.
The movie has an awesome cast, led by a very young Matthew Broderick who plays David Lightman, an equally young Ally Sheedy who plays Jennifer, John Wood as Professor Falken, Dabney Coleman as Dr. McKittrick, and a host of others you will immediately recognize. Everyone works together seamlessly and almost perfectly. While the move almost certainly takes some liberties with the reality of the situation had it actually been presented, WarGames does a fantastic job, especially the last 30 minutes, of taking you inside the control room at NORAD as Joshua displays on its screens an overwhelming Soviet nuclear strike. The tension gets ratcheted up as General Beringer orders the system to DEFCON 1 as some 2400 Soviet ICBMs are being tracked. When David, Jennifer, and Professor Falken show up at NORAD and convince the brass that everything is just a simulation, everything seems to be OK…. until Joshua tries to access the launch codes on its own to launch the US missiles and complete the game.
WarGames has so much good stuff going on. It deals with early concepts of things that are commonplace now, such as the beginnings of what would eventually become the Internet, hacking, and AI. The idea of a computer being able to learn may not seem so far-fetched now but in 1983, it was all rather ground-breaking. Lost amidst everything however, the most important lesson to learn about nuclear war is: The only winning move is not to play. Clearly, the movie means something very different to me than it will to those who did not grow up in the 1980’s prior to the fall of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Block. It came out at a time when many people either believed that a nuclear war could be won or, in the alternative, that acceptable losses could exist in any such apocalyptic event. WarGames hammered home the senselessness of any such belief and instilled in many of us the hope that those in charge would never knowingly order the annihilation of the human race. Thankfully, some 38 years later, no one has made the mistake of challenging that belief.
It also is worth mentioning that this movie could, and possibly should, be watched with another 1983 movie, albeit one made for TV, The Day After. Where WarGames showed the logic of avoiding nuclear war entirely, The Day After showed the other side of the coin, about how a nuclear war could start, the catastrophic results of the war, and what happens the day after. WarGames was hopeful; The Day After was hopeless. Still, for anyone who wants to get a good idea of how things were in the early 1980’s watch those two movies back-to-back and you will learn a great deal of what you need to know. As for WarGames though, it remains one of my all-time favorites from the 1980’s. No East German judge here guys.
Dave’s Rating: 5/5
Nerds’ Rating for WarGames (1983): 4.39/5.0
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