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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Little Giants is a 1994 football-themed movie in which Rick Moranis decides to stand up to his arrogant brother, a football legend in their town (played by Ed O'Neill), and field a Pee Wee League team of his own when his daughter, who's better at football than any of the other kids, isn't picked by O'Neill because she's a girl. There's some iffy and puerile humor throughout the movie, including a recurring joke revolving around a heavier-set boy's tendency to pass loud and stinky gas at timely and untimely moments, another boy who blows bubbles of mucous out of his nostrils, and some childish name-calling on the order of "dork" and "losers." There's also some bullying -- bigger kids give a smaller boy a "wedgie," and the daughter chases these bullies with her go-cart, causing them to lose control of their bikes and fall into a creek. Adults occasionally use profanity on the order of "pissed," "crap," and "for Christ's sake." On two occasions, crotch injuries are comedic punch lines. The movie also shows the first stirrings of tween attraction between the daughter and the heroic quarterback. Overall, despite the detours into immature humor, the movie upholds some positive messages -- namely that playing sports for fun, doing your best, and working as a team take precedence over winning at nearly all costs and excluding everyone (even talented girls who express an interest in sports) but the very best from playing.
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What's the story?
In LITTLE GIANTS, two adult brothers living in a small town -- returning football star Kevin (Ed O'Neill) and diminutive nerd Danny (Rick Moranis) -- coach opposing Pee Wee football teams. Danny's team may be filled with outcasts, but they still give Kevin's team a run for their money and teach the brothers a thing or two about family and sportsmanship.
Is it any good?
This is a formulaic yet good-natured football yarn for those who haven't seen the story of nerds triumphing over jocks many times before. The predictable big-game showdown, the bumbling practice antics, the coach falling for one of the team moms -- these are just some of the elements lifted directly from The Mighty Ducks franchise. Inconceivably, this project required the efforts of four writers. What could they have been doing? Watching and stealing from every movie in the genre? Of course, the reason we see this formula over and over again is it seems to work -- audiences eat it up.
To be fair, there are some humorous bits in Little Giants. The no-neck Neanderthal Spike, who only refers to himself in the third person, is fun to watch, saying things such as, "Spike is going to tear you apart!" The go-cart scene one-ups the rollerblading chase from D2. And Ed O'Neill's Kevin is just nasty enough to make you really dislike him. The movie's message, even if recited by rote, is a good one: Teamwork and inclusion are important.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the outcome of the big game in Little Giants. What character traits did the players develop as a result of working together?
What are some other examples of sports movies in which "scrappy underdogs" improve at a sport, learn teamwork and good sportsmanship, and find a way to beat the team everyone thinks is going to win? What do you think is the appeal of these movies?
How are the movie's messages of good sportsmanship, doing your best, and having fun no matter what happens conveyed?
- In theaters: March 2, 1999
- On DVD or streaming: March 2, 1999
- Cast: Devon Sawa, Ed O'Neill, Rick Moranis
- Director: Duwayne Dunham
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Integrity, Teamwork
- Run time: 106 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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