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The Movie: “Little Giants”
The Actors: Rick Moranis, Ed O’Neill, Shawna Waldron, Devon Sawa
The Premise: A scrappy group of sports outcasts band together under the tutelage of a scrappy, old, sports outcast to take on the kids with actual talent.
Let me say this about underdog movies before we delve into “Little Giants.” Most of them, while good, do a really poor job of setting up the “villains” of the movie. The kids who are actually good at whatever sport or thing that is the central subject of the movie are often stereotypical dicks, which is really unfair to the kids out there who are good at what they do and aren’t assholes about it.
That being said, “Little Giants” is one of the few underdog movies with something for everyone. Sure, some of the Cowboys are assholes, but most of them just wanna play the game. Kevin O’Shea is a jock, but he’s not a total prick. He just wants the best players on his team, which should be the goal of any coach. Don’t forget, when Spike takes that cheap shot on Junior, Kevin tears into him and his dad, because that’s not how the game is supposed to be played.
Here’s what I like about the way the movie plays out. Not all of the kids on the underdog team are bad. Junior is the best player on the field for either team and the other kids are just untrained or unfocused. Plus, Icebox is a serious athletic force. They’re just goofballs. It would have been easy to make the movie a reflection of the participant trophy trend, but it’s not. The movie takes what’s great about football and elevates it. Football is about competition, hard work, and brotherhood. Notice that the outcasts don’t magically pull off an upset. They put in the practice, they have superior game planning, and they have heart.
Okay, soapbox aside, is this a good movie? I’m going to argue it is. The characters are all well fleshed out, the plot moves and makes sense, and the jokes are actually funny. I still find myself saying “They’re standin’ around, Butts!” at least once a week–that’s just a classic. The romantic angle is unique, too. I’m not sure I can think of another teammate romance angle in any other movie. Ed O’Neil plays the inconsiderate jock/coach perfectly. He’s not an asshole, but he’s also not the nicest guy ever. Also, thank fucking God the whole “girl wants to play with the boys” storyline was done the way it was. If it was all about Becky’s struggle to be accepted, it would’ve been a much more frustrating movie, but we established from the get-go that she was a dominant athlete (at an age that would be realistic) and we accepted it from there. Madden also kills it in his cameo.
Downsides? Some of the acting is a little questionable. Look, when you have an all-kid cast, you’re going to run into some issues. However, most of the actors are pretty good. O’Neil and Moranis kill it, as we should all expect, but Shawna Waldron lays it on a little too thick sometimes. The whole putting on lipstick in the mirror, talking to herself scene? Could’ve done without that. But she’s got a great game face, and she can drive the hell out of a go kart, so all is forgiven.
Nostalgia Rating: This movie was perfect for me growing up, because I was a decent athlete, but I was never going to play at a higher level. It perfectly captured the idea that everyone who wants to play sports should have the opportunity, but should also have to work for the honor of playing time. 8.6/10
Objective Rating: It’s a funny, charming movie with a solid cast and decent comedic gags throughout. The ending is heartwarming and realistic, and it doesn’t unfairly demonize the characters who just want to play good football. 7.4/10