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KIDS ON FILM

'The Sandlot' Rolls Up a Big Score With Them

April 29, 1993|LYNN SMITH | Lynn Smith is a staff writer for The Times' View section. and

In "The Sandlot," a boy in the '60s makes friends with a ragtag group of ballplayers, led by a youth named Rodriguez, who must confront the legendary beast of the neighborhood--a junkyard dog--and learns in the process that "baseball is life." (Rated PG)

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Is it possible that young people have not yet wearied of nostalgic baby-boomer movies that romanticize boyhood in the 'burbs, the municipal plunge and such pre-rap songs as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"?

You bet your PF Flyers. In fact, the line between the generations has become so blurred that some kids didn't even notice that this movie was set in the past. Those who did said they liked hearing the old-fashioned music and seeing the way they played baseball in the olden days--without a lighted field. For the rest in the standing-room-only theater, nostalgia was drowned out by laughter--especially over the beast.

"We thought it was funny," said Carlos, 12, who came with his friend Andres, 11. "I liked the part where Rodriguez went to get the baseball (that was) signed by Babe Ruth, and he got it and jumped on the fence and was running away from the dog Hercules, this big monstrous dog," he said.

"I liked the dog," said Crystal, an 8-year-old sporting rainbow-colored braces.

"Suppose you could give it five stars, how many would you give it?" I asked.

"Ten!" she answered.

"You know what?" asked her friend Brianne, 6. "I'd give it 100 stars! I want to go see that again!"

Her favorite part was "when the doggie ate the ball."

Her favorite character among the boys' group was Ham, the freckle-faced kid. "He was funny."

In unison, the girls quoted him taunting a boy from a rival team: "You play ball like a gir-erl." They laughed at what they clearly did not take as an insult.

"I can probably beat that team," Crystal said.

Andrew, an 11-year-old ballplayer, said he was glad he didn't have to play in a sandlot as the kids in the movie did. But he said he was puzzled by the guys' drug of choice: chewing tobacco. "It was weird. I don't know why they did that. It was stupid."

Kids don't do that today, he said. Or at least, he added, "not that I know of."

None of the kids noticed that in the movie Babe Ruth was shown in a photograph as having a black teammate, a historical impossibility, since the leagues were not integrated at the time. But some thought the boys' ingenious tricks to fool the beast into giving up their baseballs were a little unrealistic. Nothing serious enough to spoil the movie, though.

"It was good," said David, 11, who especially liked the music.

"Do you see a lot of movies?" I asked. "Uh-huh," he said.

"Aren't you sick of all these movies about the '60s?" I ask.

"Nah."

"It doesn't bug you?"

"Uh-uh," he said, shaking his head.

Cool.

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