The Little Rascals (film)

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The Little Rascals
Little rascals ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Penelope Spheeris
Produced by Bill Oakes
Michael King
Gerald R. Molen
Written by Paul Guay
Stephen Mazur
Penelope Spheeris
Mike Scott
Robert Wolterstorff
Story by Paul Guay
Stephen Mazur
Penelope Spheeris
Starring Bug Hall
Travis Tedford
Brittany Ashton Holmes
Kevin Jamal Woods
Zachary Mabry
Ross Bagley
Sam Saletta
Blake Jeremy Collins
Blake McIver Ewing
Jordan Warkol
Courtland Mead
Juliette Brewer
Heather Karasek
Music by William Ross
Cinematography Richard Bowen
Edited by Ross Albert
Peter Teschner
Production
  company
Amblin Entertainment
KingWorld Filmed Entertainment
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s)
  • August 5, 1994 (1994-08-05)
Running time 83 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $67,308,282

The Little Rascals is a 1994 American 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 around 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.

A second Universal Little Rascals film, The Little Rascals Save the Day, was released as a direct-to-video feature in 2014.

Plot[edit]

Spanky is the president of the "He-Man Woman ('woman' is misspelled as 'womun') Haters Club" with many school-aged boys from around the neighborhood as members. His best friend, Alfalfa, has been chosen as the driver for the club's prize-winning undefeated go-kart, "The Blur", in the annual Soap Box Derby style race. However, when the announcement is made, Alfalfa is nowhere to be found.

The boys catch Alfalfa in the company of Darla. The club's members try their hardest to break the two apart, eventually causing their beloved clubhouse to burn down. Darla is mistakenly led to believe Alfalfa feels ashamed of her, so she turns her attentions to Waldo, the new kid whose father (played by Donald Trump) is an oil tycoon. Spanky, Stymie and friends judge Alfalfa's punishment to be left guarding the go-kart day and night until the day of the race. Until that day comes, Alfalfa makes many attempts to woo back Darla including a visit to her ballet rehearsal, an undelivered love letter, and through serenade.

In order to rebuild their clubhouse, the boys try to fund-raise the cost of lumber, $450. But the youngest ones, Porky and Buckwheat, have unknowingly come up with $500. Their school teacher finds out about the scheme, but Spanky convinces her to use the funds as prize money for the go-kart derby.

"The Blur" is stolen by local bullies Butch and Woim. In addition to having to rebuild the clubhouse, the boys now need a new set of wheels. They band together to build "Blur 2: The Sequel." Prior to race day, Spanky and Alfalfa reconcile and decide to ride in the two-seat go-kart together. They hope to win the prize money and the trophy, to be presented to the victors by the greatest racer of all, "A.J. Ferguson."

Butch and Woim make several sneaky attempts to stop Alfalfa and Spanky from winning the race. Waldo, who (seemingly) kicks out Darla from his race car, pulls a few tricks of his own. It's a wild race to the finish, but "Blur 2" crosses the finish line ahead of the pack (and resulting in a photo-finish between "The Blur, and "The Blur 2" literally "by a hair" due to Alfalfa's pointy hairstyle.), despite the many scrapes and crashes throughout the derby. When Butch and Woim try to beat up Alfalfa, he knocks Butch into pig slop and Woim throws himself in.

Along with first prize, Alfalfa also wins back Darla's heart after it is revealed that Darla kicked Waldo out of the car, not the opposite. Spanky, meanwhile, is shocked at the trophy presentation when he finally meets his favorite driver, A.J. Ferguson -- "a girl!" As soon as the club house is rebuilt, the boys collectively have a change of heart toward membership and welcome Darla and friends to their club, with "Women Welcome" added to the sign.

Cast[edit]

Kids
Adults
Animals

Production[edit]

Several of the surviving Our Gang cast members were less than pleased about not being asked to be consultants or make cameos for the feature film.[1] George McFarland, the original "Spanky", died in June 1993, six-and-a-half months prior to production commencing. Filming took place from January 11, 1994 to April 6, 1994.

Release[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mostly negative critical reviews upon its original release; it currently holds a 27% "rotten" rating at Rotten Tomatoes.[2] Despite the mostly negative reception, the film had scored a 70% audience rating and Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a thumbs up.

Box office[edit]

The Little Rascals earned $10 million at the North American box office during its opening weekend.[3][4] The film grossed a worldwide total of $67,308,282.

Repurposed scenes and situations[edit]

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

  • The scene in which Buckwheat and Porky are fishing and get their fishing poles caught onto each other originates from a scene in the 1943 Our Gang short Three Smart Guys with Buckwheat, Froggy, and Mickey.
  • The He-Man Woman Haters Club originally appeared in the 1937 Our Gang short Hearts are Thumps; the club would return in the short Mail and Female the same year. The plots for both shorts were reused for the film. In addition, the scene where the gang ruins Alfalfa and Darla's lunch date, as well as the scene where bubbles come out of Alfalfa's mouth while he sings, were borrowed gags from Hearts are Thumps. Alfalfa sending Buckwheat and Porky to deliver a love note to Darla was borrowed from Mail and Female.
  • The "hi-sign" originally appeared in the 1935 Our Gang short Anniversary Trouble, and the animated 1979 special, The Little Rascals Christmas Special.
  • The kids dressing up as fire fighters and attempting to put out a fire appeared in the Our Gang shorts Fire Fighters (1922), The Fourth Alarm (1926), and Hook and Ladder (1932). The gag in which Spanky (Travis Tedford) winds up on a flying water hose was originally used with Farina in The Fourth Alarm.
  • The gag involving Spanky and Stymie disguising as adults appeared in a handful of Our Gang shorts. Mickey Daniels and Johnny Downs attempted to dress up as Santa Claus with this gag in the 1926 short Good Cheer. Farina and Pleurisy tried this routine in the 1929 short Election Day. Stymie and Dickie Moore tried it in the 1933 short Fish Hooky, while Spanky and Alfalfa tried pulling it off in both the 1935 short Teacher's Beau and the 1936 short Two Too Young.
  • The scene in which Spanky and Alfalfa accidentally find themselves performing in a ballet recital was inspired by the plot of the 1937 short Rushin' Ballet. The costumes that the duo wear are exact replicas of the costumes that the original Spanky and Alfalfa wore in Rushin' Ballet. The gag in which Alfalfa gets a frog stuck in his tutu was originally used in the 1937 short Framing Youth.
  • Alfalfa singing "The Barber of Seville" is a nod to Our Gang Follies of 1938.
  • The idea of the kids building their own vehicle out of junk and scrap metal had been used in several Our Gang shorts, most notably the 1934 short Hi'-Neighbor!. The gag in which the kids' car causes several adults to leap into the air was also borrowed from Hi'-Neighbor!, and also appears in One Wild Ride (1925), Free Wheeling (1932), and Divot Diggers (1936).
  • Much of the derby race climax (including the gag in which the car belonging to Butch and Woim accidentally goes into reverse) was borrowed from the 1939 short Auto Antics. Material from Hi'-Neighbor and Three Men in a Tub (1938) is also present.
  • Alfalfa's toothache possibly came from Bored of Education.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]