The Little Rascals (film)

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The Little Rascals
Little rascals ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Penelope Spheeris
Produced byBill Oakes
Michael King
Gerald R. Molen
Screenplay byPaul Guay
Stephen Mazur
Penelope Spheeris
Story byPaul Guay
Stephen Mazur
Penelope Spheeris
Mike Scott
Robert Wolterstorff
Based on Our Gang
by Hal Roach
Starring
Music by William Ross
CinematographyRichard Bowen
Edited byRoss Albert
Peter Teschner
Production
company
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • August 5, 1994 (1994-08-05)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$67.3 million

The Little Rascals is a 1994 American family comedy film produced by Amblin Entertainment, and released by Universal Pictures on August 5, 1994. The film is an adaptation of Hal Roach's Our Gang , a series of short films of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s (many of which were broadcast on television as The Little Rascals) which centered on the adventures of a group of neighborhood children. The film, with a screenplay by Paul Guay, Stephen Mazur, and Penelope Spheeris  who also directed presents several of the Our Gang characters in an updated setting, and features re-interpretations of several of the original shorts. It was the first collaboration by Guay and Mazur, whose subsequent comedies were Liar Liar and Heartbreakers .

Contents

Another film based on Our Gang , The Little Rascals Save the Day , was released as a direct-to-video feature in 2014.

Plot

Spanky McFarland is the president of the "He-Man Woman Haters Club" with many school-aged boys from around the neighborhood as members. Alfalfa Switzer, Spanky's best friend, has been chosen to be the driver for the club's prize-winning go-kart, "The Blur", in the upcoming Soap Box Derby go-kart race. However, Alfalfa is nowhere to be found.

The boys go to find Alfalfa and discover him in the company of his sweetheart Darla, with whom he is forbidden to be in love because she is a girl, which goes against club rules. Alfalfa invites Darla on a picnic, and to prove his devotion to her, he agrees to have the picnic inside the clubhouse. Unbeknownst to Alfalfa, his fellow club members find out about his plans.

At the picnic, Alfalfa and Darla think they are alone, but the other club members secretly pull several silly pranks to sabotage their romantic date . When they finally reveal themselves and demand to come inside the clubhouse, Alfalfa frantically tries to convince Darla to hide in the closet, which leads her to mistakenly believe that Alfalfa feels ashamed of her. In the frenzy, a candle flame gets out of control, ultimately causing the clubhouse to burn down.

Darla breaks up with Alfalfa and turns her attentions towards Waldo, the new kid in town whose father is an oil tycoon. Because Alfalfa burned down the clubhouse and also fraternized with a girl, he is assigned by Stymie to guard the go-kart until the day of the race.

Alfalfa makes several attempts to win back Darla, including sending her a fake love note. When that fails, Spanky goes with him to formally break things off with Darla. They are initially denied entrance to her ballet recital, but Spanky insists that they will wait for Darla to come out; Spanky gives Alfalfa a frog to play with while they wait. They are soon spotted by the neighborhood bullies, Butch and Woim, who chase them inside the building. To escape, Spanky and Alfalfa duck into a costume room and disguise themselves as ballerinas in pink tights, tutus, and wigs. They manage to evade the bullies, but they attempt to enter another room to get out of their disguises. They are surprised to find the room filled with girls, including Darla. The boys nervously pretend to be in the recital that is about to take place, but Alfalfa almost gives them away when the frog he is still holding croaks. Darla admits that she doesn't miss him, but does miss his voice. Just as they are about to back out of the room, the ballet mistress enters and ushers them all on stage.

The recital begins, as the children are performing scenes from "The Nutcracker." Alfalfa hands the frog to Spanky, but Spanky drops the frog into the waistband of Alfalfa's tights. Alfalfa squirms in discomfort as the slimy frog wriggles around in his tights, turning the show to chaos as he tries to catch it while still dancing along. The girls break out into laughter, along with the audience. The recital ends, and the boys run off stage and Alfalfa quickly ducks behind a curtain and strips out of his disguise in order to get the frog out.

The ballet mistress, furious that the boys ruined her recital, confronts them and throws them out immediately, Alfalfa in his underwear and Spanky still in drag. Butch and Woim are waiting for them outside the door, so Spanky distracts them while Alfalfa sneaks out. When Spanky loses his wig, the bullies give chase. Spanky manages to lose them, but they bump into Alfalfa, who is trying to run home in his underwear. Butch and Woim chase Alfalfa into a mansion, but are turned away by the maid. Escaping through the back door, Alfalfa is chased by Waldo's Doberman, and he leaps into a pool and swims to the other side. As he climbs out, he notices his underwear floating on the surface of the pool. As Alfalfa retrieves his underwear, he discovers Darla and Waldo in a hot tub, laughing at him, to his embarrassment.

At the carnival talent show the day before the race, the boys try to fund-raise $450, the cost of the lumber needed to rebuild their clubhouse. The youngest club members, Buckwheat and Porky, have unwittingly come up with $500, not realizing that their method for earning the money was not exactly honest. Their school teacher, Miss Crabtree, finds out about the scheme and confronts Spanky, but he convinces her to donate the money to be given as first prize in the go-kart derby.

Alfalfa once again tries to win Darla back, this time through song, being that Darla mentioned after she dumped him that the only thing she ever really missed about him was his singing voice. Waldo and Darla have also entered the show in a duet. Alfalfa then requests the chance to perform for her and win her back. However, Waldo sabotages his attempts to serenade her by putting soap in his drinking water, causing him to burp out bubbles all throughout his song.

As a result of Alfalfa's carelessness, "The Blur" is eventually stolen by Butch and Woim, so that now, in addition to having to rebuild the clubhouse, the boys need a new go-kart. They band together to build "Blur 2: The Sequel," and on the day before the race, Spanky and Alfalfa (who previously had a falling out when the latter discovers the gang's "prank list", which was the proof that the gang sabotaged Alfalfa's picnic with Darla) reconcile their friendship and decide to ride in the two-seat go-kart together. They hope to win the prize money and the trophy, which is to be presented to the winners by A.J. Ferguson.

Butch and Woim make several sneaky attempts to stop Alfalfa and Spanky from winning the race. Waldo and Darla are also in the race, but they are eventually annoyed with each other, and Waldo seemingly kicks Darla out from his car. In a wild dash to the finish, and despite the many scrapes and crashes throughout the race, "The Blur 2" crosses the finish line ahead of the pack in a photo-finish between "The Blur" and "The Blur 2" literally by a hair, due to Alfalfa's pointy hairstyle. After the race, Butch and Woim are angry towards Alfalfa because he won the trophy and the prize money. They attempt to beat him up, but Alfalfa finally stands up for himself and punches Butch in the face, knocking him into a pool of pig slop. Woim, scared, jumps into the slop willingly.

Along with first prize, Alfalfa also wins back Darla, after it is revealed that it had been Darla who had kicked Waldo out of their car and finished the race alone because she found out that Waldo was responsible for the bubbles at the talent show. Meanwhile, Spanky is shocked at the trophy presentation when he finally meets his favorite driver, A.J. Ferguson, who turns out to be female. Spanky confesses to Darla that he and the boys were responsible for ruining their picnic lunch. After the club house is rebuilt, the boys collectively have a change of heart towards membership and they decide to welcome Darla and her friends as well as other girls into the club.

Cast

Animals

Production

Bill Thomas, Jr., son of the late Bill Thomas, who played the original Buckwheat, contacted the studio and was invited down to visit the set, but got the impression that the filmmakers did not want him or any of the surviving original cast members involved in any production capacity. The surviving cast members saw this as especially hurtful, in light of the fact that director Penelope Spheeris had previously made a point of including Buddy Ebsen, from the original Beverly Hillbillies , in her 1993 feature film adaptation of that series. Eugene Jackson, who played the original Pineapple from the silent Our Gang comedies, tried unsuccessfully to contact the studio to be a part of production, stated, "It's real cold. They have no respect for the old-timers. At least they could have recognized some of the living legends surviving from the first films." [2] Filming took place from January 11, 1994 to April 6, 1994.[ citation needed ]

Release

Critical response

The film received mixed to negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 23% based on reviews from 13 critics, although it has an audience rating of 70% as of April 2020. [3] On Metacritic it has a score of 45 out of 100 based on reviews from 20 critics. [4] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A-" on scale of A to F. [5]

Brian Lowry of Variety magazine wrote: "Those who grew up watching The Little Rascals may well be intrigued by the idea of introducing their kids to this full-color, bigscreen version. Still, the challenge of stretching those mildly diverting shorts to feature length remains formidable, and one has to wonder whether an audience exists beyond nostalgic parents and their young children." [6]

Box office

The Little Rascals earned $10 million at the North American box office during its opening weekend. [7] [8] The film grossed a worldwide total of $67,308,282.

Year-end lists

Repurposed scenes and situations

Many of the gags and subplots in the film were borrowed from the original Our Gang/Little Rascals shorts. These include:

Home media

The Little Rascals was released on VHS and DVD in 1995 and 2004 respectively. It made its Blu-Ray debut in 2014.[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

The Little Rascals is a 30-minute Saturday morning animated series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions and King World Productions. It first aired on ABC on September 25, 1982. A spin-off based on the live-action Our Gang comedy shorts, it was broadcast as part of The Pac-Man/Little Rascals/Richie Rich Show in 1982 and then as part of The Monchhichis/Little Rascals/Richie Rich Show in 1983.

The following is a complete list of the 220 Our Gang short films produced by Hal Roach Studios and/or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer between 1922 and 1944, in order of release.

<i>Our Gang</i> Film series

Our Gang is an American series of comedy short films chronicling a group of poor neighborhood children and their adventures. The films were created by studio executive Hal Roach, who was best known as the man behind the comedy duo Laurel and Hardy. The series was produced in various formats from 1922 to 1944 and is noted for showing children behaving in a relatively natural way. Roach and original director Robert F. McGowan worked to film the unaffected, raw nuances apparent in regular children rather than have them imitate adult acting styles. The series broke new ground by portraying white and black children interacting as equals.

<i>Our Gang Follies of 1938</i>

Our Gang Follies of 1938 is a 1937 American musical short subject, the 161st short subject entry in Hal Roach's Our Gang series. Directed by Gordon Douglas as a sequel to 1935's Our Gang Follies of 1936, the two-reel short was released to theaters on December 18, 1937 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

<i>Our Gang Follies of 1936</i> 1935 film

Our Gang Follies of 1936 is a 1935 Our Gang short comedy film directed by Gus Meins. Produced by Hal Roach and released to theaters by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, it was the 140th Our Gang short to be released and the first of several musical entries in the series.

<i>Glove Taps</i>

Glove Taps is a 1937 Our Gang short comedy film directed by Gordon Douglas. It was the 151st Our Gang short that was released.

<i>Hearts Are Thumps</i> 1937 film

Hearts Are Thumps is a 1937 Our Gang short comedy film directed by Gordon Douglas. It was the 152nd Our Gang short released. An audio clip from the short was included in the beginning of the song "Tough Guys" by REO Speedwagon, from the album Hi Infidelity (1980).

<i>Three Smart Boys</i>

Three Smart Boys is a 1937 Our Gang short comedy film directed by Gordon Douglas. It was the 153rd Our Gang short released.

<i>Rushin Ballet</i> 1937 film

Rushin' Ballet is a 1937 Our Gang short comedy film directed by Gordon Douglas. It was the 154th Our Gang short that was released.

<i>Mail and Female</i> 1937 film

Mail and Female is a 1937 Our Gang short comedy film directed by Fred C. Newmeyer. It was the 160th Our Gang short that was released.

<i>Came the Brawn</i> 1938 film

Came the Brawn is a 1938 Our Gang short comedy film directed by Gordon Douglas. Produced by Hal Roach and released to theaters by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, it was the 165th entry in the Our Gang series.

<i>The Little Ranger</i>

The Little Ranger is a 1938 Our Gang short comedy film directed by Gordon Douglas. It was the 169th short in the Our Gang series, and the first produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, who purchased the rights to the series from creator Hal Roach.

<i>Party Fever</i>

Party Fever is a 1938 Our Gang short comedy film directed by George Sidney. It was the 170th Our Gang short that was released.

<i>Football Romeo</i>

Football Romeo is a 1938 Our Gang short comedy film directed by George Sidney. It was the 173rd Our Gang short that was released.

<i>Practical Jokers</i>

Practical Jokers is a 1938 Our Gang short comedy film directed by George Sidney. It was the 174th Our Gang short that was released.

<i>Duel Personalities</i>

Duel Personalities is a 1939 Our Gang short comedy film directed by George Sidney. It was the 177th Our Gang short that was released.

<i>Cousin Wilbur</i>

Cousin Wilbur is a 1939 Our Gang short comedy film directed by George Sidney. It was the 179th Our Gang short that was released.

<i>Auto Antics</i>

Auto Antics is a 1939 Our Gang short comedy film directed by Edward Cahn. It was the 182nd Our Gang short that was released.

<i>Captain Spankys Showboat</i>

Captain Spanky's Show Boat is a 1939 Our Gang short comedy film directed by Edward Cahn. It was the 183rd Our Gang short that was released.

<i>The Little Rascals Save the Day</i>

The Little Rascals Save the Day is a 2014 American direct-to-video comedy film released by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The film is the second motion picture film succeeding the major 1994 film, and it is an adaptation of Hal Roach's Our Gang, a series of short films of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s which centered on the adventures of a group of neighborhood children.

References

  1. http://www.reeldogs.com/american-bulldog/
  2. Spiller, Nancy (August 6, 1994). "Not All 'Our Gang's' Here". Los Angeles Times .
  3. The Little Rascals at Rotten Tomatoes
  4. "The Little Rascals". Metacritic .
  5. "LITTLE RASCALS, THE (1994) A-". CinemaScore . Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  6. Lowry, Brian (5 August 1994). "The Little Rascals". Variety.
  7. Fox, David J. (1994-08-08). "A 'Clear' Triumph at Box Office : Movies: The Harrison Ford thriller seizes the No. 1 spot with estimated ticket receipts of more than $20 million". The Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2011-01-06.
  8. Welkos, Robert W. (1994-08-16). "Weekend Box Office". The Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2011-01-11.
  9. Lovell, Glenn (December 25, 1994). "The Past Picture Show the Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- a Year Worth's of Movie Memories". San Jose Mercury News (Morning Final ed.). p. 3.
  10. Craft, Dan (December 30, 1994). "Success, Failure and a Lot of In-between; Movies '94". The Pantagraph . p. B1.