There is a formula to films from Adam Sandler's production company Happy Madison. This formula also extends to films that typically star alumni of Saturday Night Live. Under the guise of "comedies," filmmakers keep releasing the same movie, with small teaks. Toilet humor passes for actual laughs. Lots of work goes into the soundtrack, which usually focuses on songs from the eighties. And the protagonist tends to be a weird social outcast who has some redeeming qualities and lands some hottie by the end of the movie. The Benchwarmers takes the formula and multiplies it by three. Which essentially makes it three times as bad.

Gus (Rob Schneider, Grandma's Boy, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo), Clark (Jon Heder, Just Like Heaven, Napoleon Dynamite), and Richie (David Spade, Grandma's Boy, Racing Stripes) are the neighborhood geeks. They were nerds in high school, and remain so. Gus, the most normal, owns a small landscaping business and is trying to have a child with his wife Liz (Molly Sims, Starsky & Hutch, Frank McClusky, C.I.). Richie has a huge Dutch cut and lives with his agoraphobic brother. Clark always walks around wearing a bicycle helmet and (badly) delivers the newspaper. Gus notices a bunch of jock kids bullying a nerd kid on a baseball field, and challenges the jock's team to a game. Gus can play, but Richie and Clark clearly were playing Dungeons & Dragons or something along those lines in high school. Still, Gus is a power hitter, and a good pitcher, so even with three players, these guys beat the kids.

Billionaire Mel (Jon Lovitz, The Producers, The Stepford Wives), who has a robot named Number 7 (don't ask) decides that these three guys, whom he dubs the Benchwarmers, can serve as an inspiration to nerds everywhere. He persuades them to don uniforms and go on the road, playing little league teams from the area. The winner gets a brand new stadium, courtesy of Mel. Things play out exactly as one would expect, partially because director Dennis Dugan (National Security, Saving Silverman) and screenwriters Allen Covert (Grandma's Boy, Eight Crazy Nights) and Nick Swarsdon (Grandma's Boy, Malibu's Most Wanted) have plenty of practice writing unfunny comedies.

Still, there are plenty of fans for movies like these, which is why they continue to be made. Does this mean they are any good? No. The humor is in the toilet, with lots of fart gags and vomit jokes. Oh, and don't forget the gay jokes. The Benchwarmers goes for all the easy shots, using the same jokes used before in every single other movie of this ilk. It's not a promising sign when a movie defines a character by the clothes or hair he has rather than his personality. It does prove that Heder is a one-note actor (he does the same shtick he did in Napoleon Dynamite) and even tries to odd tactic of casting Schneider in more of a normal, leading man-type role.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 20 minutes, Rated PG-13 for crude and suggestive humor, and for language.

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