A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Little Rascals is a 1994 remake of the '30s classic serial. This version espouses some of the same prejudices as the original, relying on some "girls are gross" and some anti-gay humor. The good news here is that the cast is integrated and it's less racist than the original. But there are things that would scare younger children, including thunder and a large Doberman that jumps on Alfalfa, knocking him over. The clubhouse catches fire and the kids put it out by themselves. Alfalfa drinks dish soap and bubbles come out when he sings -- parents may want to warn kids that this prank won't work as advertised. There's quite a bit of double entendre: Alfalfa's trademark stands quickly straight while accompanied by a "boy-yoy-yoing" spring sound effect often associated with male arousal, Froggy tells his friends how he scared the girl across the street: "I whipped out my lizard" (it's a real lizard). One boy tells another, "I'll show you my pickle for a nickel." There's some potty humor involving Petey the dog urinating, whoopie cushions, and bedwetting as well. Language includes "bite me" and "losers suck."
What's the story?
Our Gang hasn't changed: Spanky (Travis Tedford) is calling together the gang for an emergency meeting of the He-Man Womun Haters Club to talk about the upcoming go-cart race. But their star driver, Alfalfa (Bug Hall), is breaking the club's first rule: "to be a he-man and hate women..." He's wooing Darla (Brittany Ashton Holmes) with his warbling songs. In trying to break the pair up, the gang accidentally sets the clubhouse on fire; then, local bullies Butch (Sam Saletta) and Woim (Blake Jeremy Collins) steal their prize-winning go-cart. To top it off, a new kid moves to town: Waldo (Blake McIver Ewing), a rich jerk who wears a suit and tie and has Donald Trump as a father (really).
Is it any good?
Our Gang was a classic -- a slapstick retelling of adult dating woes through the outlandish eyes of adult-ified kids. THE LITTLE RASCALS (1994) recaptures that essence with mostly positive results. There are some great Our Gang moments here, with many scenes resurrecting those hilarious physical comedy gags of the original series. Alfalfa sings "The Barber of Seville" while bubbles come out of his mouth, an homage to the original Little Rascals TV series. And the film retains the fast-forward chase scenes and images that lovers of the original will remember fondly. There are also some great cameos: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Whoopi Goldberg, Reba McEntire, Mel Brooks, Raven Symone, and Lea Thompson.
But children today may be confused by the references and some of the behavior. Everyone knows kids don't say things like "effrontery" and "Darla, you have the sophistication of a woman of 12" -- and they probably never did. But the kids in The Little Rascals did in the 1930s and continue to in the remake.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the things they see in the movie can really happen. Can you put out a fire with water balloons? Can you really burp and fart bubbles if you drink dish soap? What should you do if you get into a dangerous situation like the Our Gang group does?
How does the movie use some of the slapstick moments that were regularly used in the original series?
What would be the challenges in adapting a series centered on young kids during the 1930s for contemporary audiences?
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