The original "Sandlot" did pretty well in theatres in 1993, but the picture really hit a home run on video, where it's remained consistently successful both in terms of rentals and sales in the years since. The success of the original has lead to a 2005 direct-to-video sequel and now this second sequel, subtitled, "Going Home".
The picture opens with star baseball player Tommy Santorelli (Luke Perry) talking to a reporter about another loss. He had a great game, but worries only about his own stats, not the success of his team. Arrogant and unprofessional, he's one of baseball's most successful players and the furthest thing the league has from a "team player". During batting practice, the pitcher is distracted by an idiotic fireworks accident in the stands and Santorelli gets knocked out cold by the pitch.
He wakes up, now 12 years old (played by Keanu Pires, who looks a little and acts a lot like a very young Keanu Reeves) in 1976 on the sandlot in his old town, surrounded by the local kids. So starts the usual tale: a developer (Paul Jarrett) is looking to bulldoze the sandlot and if his team beats the kids from the sandlot, he'll get the land. If the local kids win, they keep the lot. Tommy, new to the town, has to make the choice whether to play for the better team or whip the sandlot kids into shape. Meanwhile, Tommy also faces the loss of his mother, who is ill from cancer.
I'm certainly not the target audience for "Sandlot 3"; I found the film too predictable and some moments a bit corny. However, I found some aspects of the movie to like, such as the performances, which are natural, not over-the-top or cutesy like a lot of other family fare. The adult performances are also enjoyable, as well. The movie does look its low budget (and sound it - the score is purely generic), but kids aren't likely going to be too bothered by it. At the very least, the movie only throws out a couple of fart gags, keeping the rest of the humor largely away from the lowbrow.
As familiar (and mildly "After School Special") as the whole thing feels, it's still a sweet little movie at heart, and manages to be a pretty wholesome little film that doesn't get too heavy-handed about the lessons within. The ending's a nice little twist (although obvious and a bit nicer than deserved), as well.
VIDEO: "Sandlot 3" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame. The screening copy of the film that was provided offered just decent image quality, with some minor artifacting and slight shimmering. Sharpness and detail varied, with some scenes appearing crisp and others appearing noticably softer. However, this is still not the final copy and unfortunately, I cannot make any final comments on it, as the final copy will likely offer differing (and hopefully better) image quality.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.l presentation was perfectly average, with clear dialogue, a flat-sounding score and little else.
EXTRAS: We get an interview with former pitcher Rich "Goose" Gossage, outtakes, a couple of brief "on-set" featurettes, game demo (DVD-ROM), "Cal Ripken's Play Baseball Instructional Demo" featurette and a deleted scene. Some of the features are on the widescreen side, some on the fullscreen side.
Final Thoughts: "Sandlot 3" is a familiar and a bit rough around the edges, but the performances are enjoyable, the material doesn't resort to too much lowbrow humor and the messages are enjoyable without being heavy-handed. Overall, not a bad rental for families.
The Film B-