One of several sports-themed family films released in 1994, LITTLE GIANTS offers a formula story of small-town sibling rivalry played out in a Peewee League football play-off. Despite the added twist of a girl player on the underdog team, the story offers predictable lightweight
entertainment enlivened by a few laughs and a colorful cast led by Rick Moranis and a team of young performers.
In Urbania, Ohio, ex-football star Kevin O'Shea (Ed O'Neill) conducts tryouts for the town's Peewee team, the Cowboys, which will compete for the state championship. Kevin slights his younger brother Danny (Rick Moranis) by rejecting Danny's daughter Becky (Shawna Waldron), despite her fine
showing, simply because she's a girl. Becky and her friends, who were also rejected, get the idea to start up their own team, to be coached by Danny. After Kevin tries to put a stop to the plan, Danny gets him to agree to a play-off to decide which team will compete in the state finals.
Danny and Becky scour the town in search of willing players and gather a motley crew of kids with limited skills and no team spirit. They luck out when Becky discovers Junior Floyd (Devon Sawa) expertly lobbing rolls of toilet paper into a cart at the supermarket. With Becky and Junior on board,
the new team, the Little Giants, has a chance to make a good showing, and they begin their training in earnest. Fitfully low morale continually threatens to break up the team. A chance visit, however, by former pro football coach John Madden and four NFL football stars--Steve Entman, Bruce Smith,
Emmitt Smith, and Tim Brown--leaves the team with several valuable tips on how to create a psychological advantage. Becky develops a crush on Junior and is jealous when her cheerleader cousin Debbie (Courtney Peldon) flirts with the boy. She decides to compete for Junior on equal terms and puts on
make-up and a cheerleader outfit, joining the cheerleaders and abandoning her team.
On the day of the big game, the Giants, shaken by Becky's desertion, play badly in the first half, trailing 21-0. Danny gives them a pep talk and they come out fighting. They start to score and, when Junior is injured by a deliberate attack, an enraged Becky rejoins the team, helping the Giants
to tie the score. Junior returns to the field and a secret play enables the Giants to score a winning touchdown. Danny offers Kevin the chance to combine their teams and share coaching duties.
Similar in theme and structure to THE MIGHTY DUCKS, the 1992 Disney hit about a team of misfit hockey players, LITTLE GIANTS lacks the earlier film's resonant emotional subtext and its sharply etched characters, including the conscience-stricken yuppie coach and a highly believable team of
genuinely troubled juveniles. Instead, the new film opts for Rick Moranis' patented, likeable father figure, honed to perfection in HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS and its sequel, and a cartoonish group of outlandish kiddie types.
Despite its by-the-numbers plotting and skin-deep characterizations, the film remains enjoyably forgettable family entertainment, enlivened by some unusual characters among its dysfunctional crew of Little League rejects. One scrawny kid (played by Todd Bosley), with thick glasses, advanced
hypochondria, weekly psychiatric appointments, and a neurotic mother, drives himself with a demented determination that enables him to score the winning touchdown, recalling the young Jerry Lewis from the 1951 football comedy, THAT'S MY BOY.
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: PG
- Review: One of several sports-themed family films released in 1994, LITTLE GIANTS offers a formula story of small-town sibling rivalry played out in a Peewee League football play-off. Despite the added twist of a girl player on the underdog team, the story offers… (more)