Australian Council on Children and the Media

Benchwarmers, The

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Short takes

Not recommended under 13 (Viol. Sex. Lang.)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Benchwarmers, The
  • a review of Benchwarmers, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 19 May 2006.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to violence, sexual references and coarse language. Also, the dialogue and the storyline will be uninteresting for younger children.
Children aged 8-13 Not recommended due to some violence, including bullying and sexual references.
Children over the age of 13 Adolescents over the age of 13 could watch this movie, depending on parentsu2019 assessment of the content.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Benchwarmers, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild crude humour, Mild coarse language, Mild sexual references
Length 85 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Clarke (Jon Heder) and Richie (David Spade) are adults who never got to play sport as kids. They were considered ‘losers’ or ‘nerds’ and so were both bullied and left out of the local team games. Gus (Rob Schneider) is the local landscaper who used to play baseball as a kid. After Gus and Clarke rescue three kids who are being bullied by the elementary league team, Gus is surprised to find that Clarke has never hit a baseball. As a result he takes Clarke and his friend Richie down for a hit. When the same local team tries to get the three of them off the local pitch, Gus challenges them to a game. Whoever wins gets to stay. The three men win the game and so starts a idea for a round robin challenge. Three men against the various elementary league teams and along the way they become an inspiration for children who are currently excluded from local teams for the same reasons that Clark and Richie were when then were back in school.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Bullying

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, mostly intended for comic effect, including:

  • some boys hold another boy down while one of them ‘farts’ in his face. The boy who is being picked on ends up crying.
  • a baseball bat flies through the air hitting and killing some squirrels.
  • the benchwarmers use their baseball bats to bash letter boxes while driving down the street (supposedly in the name of learning to hit the ball).
  • a player stamps on Gus’s hand so hard that it is badly hurt
  • during play, some of the players ram into each other. A couple of times the player that is hit does not get up.

Parents are reminded that preschoolers will not understand the intent of comic violence and could be confused by it. Although comic violence may appear benign for older children, and children often enjoy it, over-exposure to comic violence can lead children to believe that violence doesn’t really hurt.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Richie’s brother is scared of the sun and hides in a cupboard. His behaviour when he comes out and sees the sun may worry some small children.
  • squirrels fall down dead out of the trees after being hit by a baseball bat.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age category may also be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, particularly the scenes where children are being bullied and the players are being hit and not getting up.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

It is unlikely that children over the age of thirteen will be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

The benchwarmers eat at Pizza Hut several times.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Gus’s wife wants to start a family, and is constantly talking about when she is ovulating.
  • Gus ends the movie by saying that his wife is pregnant because he ‘went all the way’.

Nudity and sexual activity

Some kissing.

Use of substances

One scene in which an adult posing as a young player in one of the games becomes completely drunk (on beer and tequila). He throws the ball wildly then ‘throws up’ in the coach’s face.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • arse
  • crap
  • damn

In a nutshell

The Benchwarmers is essentially a comedy with some serious moments, and an underlying theme that bullying in sport is unpleasant and unnecessary. The movie is reasonably entertaining, quite funny in places, and although parts are overly sentimental, many adults and older adolescents will enjoy it.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • the importance of allowing all kids to play sport
  • bullying is not acceptable
  • giving everyone a go
  • being able to say you are sorry if you have been nasty to someone
  • often kids learn bad behavior from the adults around them. So good role-modeling is important.

Values parents may wish to encourage include:

  • empathy
  • loyalty
  • teamwork

This movie could give parents the opportunity to discuss the issue of bullying.

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