Warner Bros. // 1994 // 106 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // August 14th, 2003
For anyone who's waited to be chosen, and wasn't...
your day has come.
Peewee football. The name alone sends shiver down the spine of anyone who's ever played a trombone or wanted to be in the chess club. But for those who thought they could never be a part of a sports team...your time is now. For Danny O'Shea (Rick Moranis, Ghostbusters), life has been spent living under the umbrella of his big brother's success and constant belittling. Kevin O'Shea (Ed O'Neill, TV's Married with Children) is a retired professional football player who has cornered the market on being self congratulatory. All over the town there are erected idols to Kevin's success -- even the water tower proclaims it to be the hometown of this egotistic football hero. All this is about to change after Danny gets pushed too far by Kevin's intimidation tactics. When Danny's daughter, Becky "Icebox" O'Shea (Shawna Waldron, The American President), is cut by Kevin from the local team because she's a girl, Danny decides to start up his own team. Taking a ragtag group of outcasts (including the stereotypical Asian kid, the fat kid, the dorky kid, the black kid, et cetera), Danny plans on beating Kevin's team and becoming the town's newest peewee champion. Through training and intimidation, the Little Giants will show Kevin that sometimes even the small guy has his day in the sun!
I was surprised that Little Giants was able to distinguish itself from the normal kiddy fare by including characters that weren't one-dimensional morons. The story is pretty basic -- the underdogs (this time a batch of misfit kids) have to prove their self worth to themselves and the town by beating a team of peewee mad dog football players. This "Bad News Bears" approach has been around for decades, so there's nothing new in the execution. What is new, however, is the way the screenplay allows the characters to come off as more than just stock players in a children's sports movie. While the rival coach (O'Neill) acts like a horse's ass on the field, he's seen in a different light during quieter, more intimate moments with his brother Danny and during talks with his niece, Becky. Most movies would have just made him out to be a big time jerk who's defeated in the end -- instead we get the feeling that Kevin's only true flaw is that his passion for football often clouds his judgment when it comes to friends and family. Even the kids are a less obnoxious than the usual cinematic tykes. The stand outs include Shawna Waldron as Becky "Icebox" O'Shea, a girl who doesn't seem to know that she can be both a tomboy and a beautiful girl, and a young Devon Sawa (Final Destination) as her love interest, Junior. Of course, there's also the fat kid who likes to eat, the math nerd who comes up with plays and executions on his computer, and so forth. In other words: the whole gambit of child types is hit. Ah, some things never change. Rick Moranis plays a character that isn't much of a stretch -- Danny O'Shea is essentially every other Moranis character, only slightly less goofy. O'Neill proves that he's a funny guy when given good one-liners (when one kid asks O'Neill how long it took him to run a lap, O'Neill snaps back that he doesn't know because "I don't have a sundial"). If Little Giants falters in any particular spot it's in the pacing -- at 107 minutes, the movie runs about 20 minutes too long with the climactic end game (is there any other kind?) plodding on into what sometimes feels like eternity. In the end, Little Giants is an amiable family comedy that stresses teamwork over winning, and that you don't have to be a big guy to do big things.
Little Giants is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer here is much better than expected -- the colors and black levels are all solid and well defined. While there's a few minor instances of grain, overall there isn't a whole lot to complain about. Though Little Giants won't win any awards for being the "transfer of the year," it's appropriately clean and clear for the movie it's supporting. The soundtrack is available in Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that utilizes the rear speakers during John Debney's anthemic score and during the final football game. Otherwise, the effects are sporadic and not very exciting. All aspects of the mix are free and clear of any excessive hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo soundtracks in English and French, as well as English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
There are two main extra features on this disc. The first is a short introduction by Shawna Waldron discussing, very briefly, her experiences making the film and working with Moranis and O'Neill. The second is a commentary track by Waldron, director Duwayne Dunham, and screenwriter Robert Shallcross. This is only a so-so commentary track -- though it's filled with a fair amount of production and casting stories, was Little Giants really in need of a full feature commentary track? However you feel on that particular subject, I'm sure the fans will be thrilled to have this track on this disc. Also included are a few cast and crew filmographies, as well as an anamorphic widescreen theatrical trailer for the film.
Review content copyright © 2003 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Commentary Track with Actress Shawna Waldron, Director Duwayne Dunham, and Screenwriter Robert Shallcross
* All New Introduction by Shawna Waldron
* Theatrical Trailer
* Cast and Filmmaker Highlights