Making the Grades
The wisdom of the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" wasn't on the mind of writer/director David Mickey Evans when he decided to pen The Sandlot II. More likely he was hoping to capitalize on the homerun he scored in 1993 with the original film, which took a nostalgic look at 1962 life through the eyes of an egghead boy as he made new friends and learned to play baseball.
In this sequel, set in 1972, the empty field that played host to those earlier rascals is now the home diamond for another group of twelve-year-olds. Desperate to beat the local Little League, but short a few bodies, the baseball wannabes begrudgingly agree to add three females to their roster.
While practicing with these "liberated" ladies of the '70s, one of Hayley Goodfairer's (Samantha Burton) underhand pitches is hit over a bordering wall of broken-down appliances and into in the backyard of Mr. Mertle (James Earl Jones). Because most of the kids are recent move-ins, they don't know what lurks behind the mound of scrap metal. So it is up to Johnnie Smalls (James Willson), one of the few long-time community residents, to tell them about "The Great Fear" -- the man-eating descendant of the vicious dog who plagued the boys of the first movie.
Suitably scared, including the usually confident David (Max Lloyd-Jones), the gang steers clear of the slobbering beast until they are responsible for accidentally losing a priceless model rocket within the hazardous compound. Retrieving it will require every creative problem-solving skill they can come up with.
This premise will be familiar to anyone acquainted with the original. More like a remake than a continuation of the plot, this production runs all the same bases, featuring similar stereotyped characters (a fat kid with flatulence, a girl-obsessed preteen, and a visible minority), and even recycles the moral of the story.
The biggest difference between the two is charm. Although the initial tale depicts some boyish behavior most mothers would take objection to, there is an honesty about the portrayal. Whereas the newer edition features situations so much larger than life, it strips away any credibility. For instance, how could the kids possibly dig such a sophisticated tunnel? Or how could the cat return with only its fur missing after having an up-close-and-personal encounter with the growling canine?
Besides the ridiculous antics, there are also a lot of mild to moderate profanities used, some cartoon-style falls that result in no injuries, and the idea of getting away with a lie. As well, introducing the girls into the mix provides opportunities for romantic attraction and kisses between preteens.
Poor acting and a redundant narrator are more reasons why the filmmaker should have quit while he was ahead. By the final inning, The Sandlot II just feels vacant.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Sandlot II.
In this movie, Hayley’s liberated mom refuses to let the girl’s father call her by any “feminine” nicknames, such as sweetheart. Yet she lets Hayley wear a bikini, and she sports a cleavage-revealing shirt. Do you feel there is a contradiction in these actions?
Likewise, the girls claim they can play baseball just like the boys, but are offended when a male opponent tackles one of them. How do you feel about equality of the sexes?