The Little Rascals (film)
|The Little Rascals|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Penelope Spheeris|
|Produced by||Bill Oakes
Gerald R. Molen
|Written by||Paul Guay
|Story by||Paul Guay
Brittany Ashton Holmes
Kevin Jamal Woods
Blake Jeremy Collins
Blake McIver Ewing
|Music by||William Ross|
|Editing by||Ross Albert
KingWorld Filmed Entertainment
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||83 minutes|
The Little Rascals is a 1994 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.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (July 2012)|
"The He-Man 'Womun' Haters Club" is a club of local school-aged boys, all of whom refuse to play with girls. The boys are entering their go-cart, the "Blur". Spanky wants to win the race, since his favorite race car driver, A.J. Ferguson, will award first prize. Alfalfa, club member and best friend of president Spanky, is selected to drive the Blur in the race. However since Alfalfa had apparently skipped the meeting, the boys search for him and find Alfalfa in the middle of a romantic boat ride with his girlfriend, Darla. Since Alfalfa's relationship with Darla interferes with the club's rule of forbidding a club member to play with or have a romantic relationship with girls, the other club members try to spoil Alfalfa and Darla's romantic boat ride in hopes of breaking them up. However, their plans fail, and Darla and Alfalfa schedule a romantic picnic in the clubhouse.
The other He-Man "Womun" Haters secretly spy on the couple during their picnic, and make several attempts to ruin it like putting kitty litter in their sandwiches and pouring their juice out of a dirty sneaker, until Alfalfa notices and quickly brings his date with Darla to an early end. He quickly blows out the candles and stores the dining room table in a closet, accidentally leaving one lit, and he makes Darla hide in the clubhouse until he can convince the other boys that he and Darla were not doing anything in there. But Darla thinks that Alfalfa is ashamed of her, so she tries to escape the clubhouse by driving away in the Blur and crashing through the clubhouse walls. The candle Alfalfa didn't blow out also sets the clubhouse on fire. The boys quickly try to put the fire out (Buckwheat and Porky, were sent to call the fire department, but neither one of them knew the number for 9-1-1, so the club did not get any professional help from fire-fighters). Alfalfa faints after the clubhouse catches fire, and while he is passed out the other boys finish putting out the fire. As Darla tosses the ring Alfalfa gave her earlier back to him before leaving with Waldo, who previously tried to win her over with near success, she says "I never wanna speak to you as long as I live. Tell him when he comes to, guys."
After Alfalfa regains consciousness, the other club members punish him by forcing him to guard the Blur every night and day until the day of the race, but not before Spanky punches him. On the first night, Alfalfa has a nightmare where he is with Darla (who likes him) and Spanky blows him off a cliff and he wakes at that moment where the He-Man Woman Haters convince him that girls are no good while Darla's friends do the same on the same night and they all scream when there's thunder. Alfalfa doesn't listen to their rules and still loves Darla.
In order to win her back, Alfalfa pretends to write Darla a hate note but really writes her a love note for Porky and Buckwheat to deliver to her. They lose the note on the way to Darla's house but Buckwheat remembers what Alfalfa told them the note "said" and recites to Darla, who hates Alfalfa even more. Spanky tries to change Alfalfa's mind about girls by making him speak to her after her ballet recital, but the two end up ruining the recital (due to a mix-up caused by Butch and Woim seeing them), which only makes Darla more upset. Alfalfa is taken off duty of guarding the go-cart, so Porky and Buckwheat are assigned to do so instead. However, Butch and Woim lure the two young boys away from the Blur by tying a dollar bill to a duck's tail and sending the duck right past the go-cart, just before setting off a booby trap involving a pickle jar being dropped on them both.
The He-Man Woman Haters try to raise money to afford both a new clubhouse at a local fair, and they try to come up with at least $450. They try several different schemes, including trying to buy lumber with a pile of pennies, and trying to get money from a bank by disguising themselves as adults. However, Porky and Buckwheat manage to raise $500 by putting up an "Admisshun $3" sign at the free talent show, but the boys' schoolteacher Miss Crabtree finds out soon and scolds them for tricking people. However, Spanky suggests using the money Porky and Buckwheat raised as prize money for the go-cart race, which their teacher agrees to.
During the talent show, Waldo and Darla sing a duet which was first supposed to be sung with Alfalfa. Alfalfa drives the Blur to the talent show and sees them on stage together, and he gets upset and decides to enter the talent show and sing to her. Spanky ruins his talent by Winching him up on stage, and Waldo puts soap in the water that he is drinking before he sings, causing him to burp bubbles during his song. Darla is ashamed of the performance and leaves.
Butch and Woim manage to steal the Blur so they can use it in the go-cart race. Once the He-Man Woman Haters discover that the Blur has been stolen, Spanky gets into a fight with Alfalfa, and the two end their friendship. Later, after some prodding from Stymie, the two reconcile.
The boys manage to build a new go-cart in time for the race, and Alfalfa is the driver, as originally planned, with Spanky riding along. Butch and Woim have repainted the Blur and pass it off as their own go-cart, and try to cheat their way to winning during the race. Darla, who is racing with Waldo, eventually gets tired of Waldo's attitude and starts to yearn for Alfalfa, so Waldo appears to abandon Darla in the middle of the race and takes off. Eventually, after a heated race, the He-Man Woman Haters win the race, much to the chagrin of Waldo, Butch, and Woim. Alfalfa stands up to Butch by punching him into a pile of pig excrement and Woim jumps in to avoid being hit.
Darla reunites with Alfalfa, and they renew their relationship. When being awarded their trophy and prize money, Spanky meets A.J. Ferguson, who turns out to be a woman. Though Spanky himself does not mind it, his opinion about females stubbornly has not officially changed, though the rest of the club members except Spanky gain girlfriends after the race. Finally, Spanky gives in to his now girl-loving friends, and "Women Welcome" is added to the new clubhouse sign (thus repealing the No Women rule), the club members have managed to purchase a new clubhouse with their prize money. Then Uh-huh (one of the club members who always says uh-huh) learns a new word, but he states that he always had such a big vocabulary, it is just that he decides not to use it.
- Travis Tedford as Spanky, the president of "He-Man Women Hater's Club" and Alfalfa's best friend
- Bug Hall as Alfalfa, Spanky's best friend and Darla's boyfriend
- Brittany Ashton Holmes as Darla, Alfalfa's love interest
- Kevin Jamal Woods as Stymie, the club's vice-president
- Jordan Warkol (voice dubbed by E.G. Daily) as Froggy, a club member with a croaking voice and a love for amphibians
- Zachary Mabry as Porky, one of the younger members of the club
- Ross Bagley as Buckwheat, another one of the younger members of the club and Porky's best friend
- Sam Saletta as Butch, the neighborhood bully
- Blake Jeremy Collins as Woim, Butch's friend and sidekick
- Blake McIver Ewing as Waldo, an obnoxious rich new kid who has his eye for Darla
- Courtland Mead as Uh-huh – club "typographer", always answers "uh-huh"
- Juliette Brewer as Mary Ann
- Heather Karasek as Jane
- Raven-Symoné as the girl talking to Stymie
- Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen as the twin girls seen at Darla's sleepover
- Mel Brooks as Mr Welling, the pompous rude bank teller
- Lea Thompson as Miss Roberts, Darla's ballet instructor
- Daryl Hannah as Miss Crabtree, the gang's schoolteacher
- Reba McEntire as A.J. Ferguson, "the best driver there is"
- Whoopi Goldberg as Buckwheat's mother
- Donald Trump as Waldo's father
- Eric Edwards as Spanky's father
- Dan Carton as Alfalfa's father
- George Wendt as Lumber store guy
- Petey, a neighborhood American Bulldog, possibly owned by Spanky
- Elmer, the pet White-throated Capuchin Monkey of a nameless club member
- Fifi, Waldo's pet Doberman Pinscher
Several of the surviving Our Gang cast members were less than pleased about not being asked to be consultants and make cameos for the feature film. George McFarland, the original "Spanky", died in June 1993, 6 1/2 months prior to production commencing. Filming took place from January 11, 1994 to April 6, 1994.
Critical reception 
The film received mostly negative critical reviews upon its original release; it currently holds a 27% "rotten" rating at Rotten Tomatoes. 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 
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:
- 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.
- 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.
See also 
- Not All 'Our Gang's' Here : Movies: A few surviving members of the original films are hurt they weren't in 'The Little Rascals' remake. Director Penelope Spheeris says she didn't mean to offend.
- The Little Rascals at Rotten Tomatoes
- 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.
- Welkos, Robert W. (1994-08-16). "Weekend Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
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- The Little Rascals at the Internet Movie Database
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- The Little Rascals at Rotten Tomatoes