Making the Grades
A dead-on hit in the groin is meant to garner a lot of laughs--at least it is in The Benchwarmers. So is picking your nose, passing gas, twisting your rival's nipples and eating sunscreen.
They're behaviors most parents wouldn't want repeated at home... but repeated they are, for an entire 80 minutes.
In the film, the demarcation line between jock and nerd is clearly drawn. The jocks--old and young alike--talk tough and flex their muscles while most of the nerds dejectedly watch life from the sidelines.
Luckily, one of the geeks has managed to gain a modicum of coolness. After enduring the taunts of bullies as a child, Gus (Rob Schneider) moved away from home, started a landscaping business and married an incredibly beautiful blonde who is always anxious to copulate. Yet, he still hangs around with a couple of designated losers--Clark (Jon Heder), an overly cautious newspaper carrier bedecked in protective gear and Richie (David Spade), a virginal video clerk who watches lesbian flicks rather than developing relationships with real women.
When a group of bad-mouthed junior baseball players try and run the three friends off the ball field, Gus challenges the boys to a game. After soundly beating the kids, the trio is approached by Mel (Jon Lovitz), another adult nerd who has hit the jackpot. With billions of dollars in his bank account, he now has the monetary clout to reap some revenge on his old tormentors. He plans to do it by sponsoring the three benchwarmers in a baseball tournament where they'll take on the youngsters now coached by his former bullies.
It's not long before nerds are oozing out of the shadows to support the new team. They fill the stands, ask for autographs and even pod cast their games over the Internet. With this swelling of geek gusto, the film tries to establish a heartfelt message about cheering for the underdog, accepting others and letting everyone play.
However, the importance of the moral gets lost somewhere after the benchwarmers vandalize mailboxes for batting practice and before a drunken pitcher vomits all over his coach. With the script so caught up in injecting every scene with some joke about urination, dog dung, midgets or the insinuation of homosexual activity with a male playmate in a Speedo, it completely forgets to develop any positive points.
Unfortunately, both the nerds and the jocks are such extreme stereotypes they are impossible to warm up to. Despite their good intentions to give geeks their day on the diamond, these guys are best left in the dugout.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Benchwarmers.
Why is Gus hesitant to start a family? What could he do to overcome his fears?
Do the nerds act any more compassionately than the jocks in this film? Is revenge a justifiable alternative to their problems? Are there other ways they could have dealt with the bullies?
Why do films often rely on stereotypical characters? Are either the nerds or jocks accurately portrayed? Are there people who are both brainy and athletic?