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THE BENCHWARMERS

About The Production
"Adam Sandler had this idea," explains Rob Schneider, "for a movie about three older guys, who weren't really that great at sports when they were kids, who get a chance to play against other young baseballers and beat up on them.”

Director Dennis Dugan says, "I got involved with The Benchwarmers when Happy Madison, Adam Sandler's company, sent me the script. I had done two comedies for them and they knew I was a huge baseball fan. So they thought it would be the perfect marriage.”

Dugan admits he related to the concept of being a benchwarmer because he was one when as a kid. "A benchwarmer is the athletic kid who isn't an athlete, someone who really wants to play and be included, but who always gets picked last — if he gets picked at all — and always sits at the end of the bench.”

Glad to be working with Happy Madison again, particularly on a movie about baseball, it was only when he was in production that Dugan realized "how difficult it is to shoot a movie about baseball, because the field is so vast. It's not a linear sport like basketball, hockey or football, which basically work on one line.

Baseball is different. It starts here and then the ball goes there and someone runs there to get it, and if he does, someone cheers way over there somewhere. So it's composed of thousands and thousands and thousands of shots. So there's one line in the script that basically says ‘Nelson hits a double down the right field line,' and I suddenly realized it was going to take four hours to shoot that one line. So, I had to make an account for every shot. I had to be part director and part CPA.”

As a former actor, Dugan had a special facility for communicating with his cast. "Having been an actor, now that I'm working behind the camera, I can empathize with the desire in each and every cast member to find their character and the most appropriate line reading. It helps that I understand the language of how to get them there. It makes for a truly collaborative process. On this movie, everybody had a voice and everybody came up with stuff. My job was to be the shepherd and keep them all going down the same path.”

"Dennis Dugan was great. He had more energy than anyone on the set, which is how it should be," says Schneider. "He constantly had fresh ideas and if you got stuck, he was right there to help you. Also, his son is an incredible baseball player, so he has a real appreciation and love of the game. He loves comedy and he loves the game.”

"Dugan is a genuinely nice guy. He's peppy and he's been around comedy for a long time with some hit movies under his belt,” says David Spade. "It was wonderful to have someone on the set who was upbeat and in a good mood and up to changing things if he had to.”

Jon Heder agrees, "Dugan was a lot of fun to work with, like a big kid. He'd get out there and kind of goof around and do funny voices. He was full of energy and excitement and he had a good handle on what kids' baseball is like.”

For co-screenwriter Nick Swardson, Dugan was a welcome, encouraging presence. "He gave me a lot of freedom, which writers rarely have on the set,” he explains. "He really respects and loves comedy, so he welcomed any new jokes or line changes. It made for a really productive creative process.”

Dugan also had support from Sandler, one of the producers on the film who, throughout production, served as a combination booster, inspiration and comic benchmark.

"Adam's presence was always felt, whether he was on the set or not," according to Schneider, "because this was a story he had always had in his mind and I was playing the role he might have played. That was a big responsibility for me, because I think of Adam like a brother and I wanted to make sure that we were doing the movie in a way that would justify his enthusiasm

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