The Benchwarmers (D: Dennis Dugan, 80 min)
One of the foul things about the baseball season starting up is that baseball-themed films show up as well. Last year we got Fever Pitch, which was the film equivalent of a base hit. This year there's The Benchwarmers , which might not even make it to first base. Rob Schneider , David Spade and Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder play a trio of nerds who decide to compete in the Little League to make up for their traumatic childhood sports experiences.
Look for cameos galore, not only from Schneider's and Spade's SNL pals Adam Sandler (an exec producer), Jon Lovitz and Tim Meadows , but also from quasi-celebs like Craig Kilborn , Rachel Hunter and baseball great Reggie Jackson . With few other players opening, expect it to score a home run at the weekend box office.
Phat Girlz (D: Nnegest Likké, 99 min)
One movie that could take a bite out of The Benchwarmers' haul - especially in urban demos - could be Phat Girlz , about a plus-sized fashion designer ( Mo'Nique ) who battles discrimination on her way to the world's top runways. The trailers look amusing, and Mo'Nique (Soul Plane, Moesha) has great screen presence.
First-time writer/director Nnegest Likké has an interesting background. She's the daughter of Senay Likké, an African leader who fought for social and economic equality in Ethiopia in the 1970s. Let's see how the daughter deals with politics of a different sort.
Both films open Friday (April 7). Screened after press time - see reviews April 7 at www.nowtoronto.com/film.