Director: Duwayne Dunham
Cast: Rick Moranis, Ed O'Neill, Devon Sawa, Shawna Waldron
Released: October 14, 1994
This movie is very similar to The Mighty Ducks, except just replace hockey with football. There are a few differences, but in the end it's about a group of kids who suck at football but have a coach who believes in them and tells them they're out there to have fun and they end up beating the Big Bad Team in the final game. (Well, in this movie, it's the ONLY game that's played!)
The movie begins in 1964 in the small town of Urbania, Ohio, where we meet brothers Kevin and Danny O'Shea. Kevin is the cooler, more athletic older brother who is a natural at football. So much so that he will go on to win three high school championships, a National Collegiate Title, an All-American title, and a Heisman trophy. The town's water tower boasts it is "The Home of the Great Kevin O'Shea." Danny is the dorky, non-athletic younger brother who wants to play football but is never picked to join either team. Kevin tries to make him feel better by telling him that he's so good it makes Danny look bad.
We then fast forward to "present day" 1994 with Ed O'Neill as Kevin and Rick Moranis as Danny. Kevin owns a car dealership called O'Shea Chevrolet (love how that rolls off the tongue) which is very heavily football-themed and coaches the town's Pee Wee football team, the Cowboys. His assistant coach is named Coach Butz and that made the twelve-year-old in me giggle every time I heard it. Danny runs a gas station and has a pre-teen daughter who is trying out to join her Uncle's team. Her name is Becky, but she goes by Ice Box and she is clearly good enough to be chosen for the team. Now, all the kids should have made the team, but Kevin wants to put together the best team he can so he can win a Pee Wee State Championship. In the end, only four kids don't make the team and they're all devastated and you feel really bad for them. Oh, don't get me wrong, with the exception of Becky, they all suck, but they shouldn't have been left out. You have the kid who can't run and cries a lot, you have the kid who can never catch the ball, and you have the fat kid who farts a lot (clearly the Goldberg of Little Giants) who wheezes when he runs. It's only four kids, so I think he could've found room on the team for them. He explains his reason for cutting Becky is because she's a girl and girls shouldn't play football, but rather be cheerleaders on the field. Even though he's clearly a misogynist, he and his niece do have a loving relationship, but he should have just used nepotism as a reason why he didn't want Becky to join his team. Or, you know, if he had just let everyone join the team who wanted to in the first place, then this wouldn't even be a problem.
With good reason, Danny is angry at his brother and ends up starting his own team, the Little Giants, with Becky and the three other rejects. They start recruiting other kids to play on their team, and they pretty much just recruit any kid they see, no matter if they've ever played or even like football. There's a scene where Danny goes up to a kid named Timmy on one of those mechanical horses outside a grocery store and asks him, "You ever play football?" ("No".) "You like football?" ("No".) "Great, you can be on our team!" There's a kid named Johnny who is having abandonment issues because his dad is always going on business trips and never gets any attention from him. I thought this was going to give us a very poignant and emotional scene, but it's just used for the kid to score a point during the Big Game. His dad has just returned from a business meeting and is walking up to the field to see his son's game and Johnny has the ball and sees his dad and starts running towards him and scores the team a goal. One of the more memorable kids (and I had never seen this movie until now, but even I remember this kid from the trailers!) is Jake Berman who goes by the nickname "The Berminator". He is the little scrawny kid who wears these magnifying glasses which make his eyes look huge. His mother brings him to Danny and explains to him that he was one pound and one ounce when he was born and was in an incubator for the first three months of his life and is allergic to everything. He looks like he would easily snap in half and the mom tells Danny, "I think football is just the medicine for him" and the kid says, "My shrink told her I gotta get out more!" Cracks me up that this ten-year-old has his own shrink. When he shows up for his first practice, he's wrapped in this foam padding with duct tape because his mom didn't think the padding he was given would do the trick.
Since there can only be one team in the town, they decide to have a play-off in a couple of weeks and whoever wins that will get to be Urbania's Pee Wee Football team.
Devon Sawa plays Junior Floyd, the Fulton Reed of this movie. He is recruited by the Giants when they see him at a grocery store throwing individually wrapped toilet paper rolls into a cart. One of the kids says, "What a throw!" Another says, "What a find!" And Becky, who is also there and spying on him through a shelf, says, "What a hunk!" Of course she has a crush on him despite telling herself she's the Ice Box and doesn't get crushes. It's Devon Sawa for God's sake! Every preteen girl of the early '90s had a crush on Devon Sawa. He is one of two names of the young cast I was familiar with. The other one was Kevin's youngest daughter who is played by a very young (like probably five or six years old) Alexa Vega. I didn't even know it was her until I looked up the cast on IMDb. When Danny and Becky go to the Floyd home to ask him to join the Giants, we find out that his mother is Patty, who Danny had a crush on when he was young and we do see her in the 1964 scene. At first, I thought maybe Kevin had married her because we see his wife is also blonde, but nope, here she is, a single mother, and apparently had no idea Danny was still living in the same town (and Danny didn't know she was still in Urbania either).
Kevin finds out from his older daughter (who also has a crush on Junior, because she is also a preteen girl) that Junior is on the Giants and takes Butz (still makes me laugh!) to spy on his brother's team. Danny is alerted by the smart bespectacled blond kid who he hired as his assistant that there are spies and he calls the police to pretend he's an 86 year old woman and warn them about old men in their underwear peeping at young boys. He even uses one of the kids to pretend cry and to tell the police to "Please hurry!" Wow, I cannot believe this movie went there! You really could get away with a lot more in kids' movies from the '90s! There is an article in the paper the next day with the headline, "Local Hero Arrested."
One thing I didn't understand was why Junior never tried out for football in the first place. He is good at it and seems to have a love for it because he asks Danny if he think he can get his brother's autograph. Also, how come we never see a scene of Kevin going to Junior and asking him if he wants to be on the "legitimate" team, the Cowboys? He's good enough he could have made Kevin's team and I'm sure he could have made room for him. Though I don't know if Junior would have accepted the offer because he never seems angry that, aside from Becky, all the kids on his new team suck. If anything, he's very encouraging, so I don't think he would diss the Giants like that.
We also have a reverse Adam Banks situation where a player, who is very good at his sport and is brought in to help the team, starts on the sucky (but "Good Guys") team) and ends up on the really good (but "Big Bad") team. The kid's name is Spike and it was like he was bred in a laboratory for the sole purpose of playing football. He's this huge ten year old who is carrying a refrigerator on his back when we are first introduced to him. We are given these impressive stats about him and football from his dad. Basically he's a lean, mean, football-playing machine. He also refers to himself in the third person. When he has his first practice with the Giants, he says, "Spike's in Pee Wee football hell!"
The acquiring of Spike is amusing, but doesn't quite make sense. You see, when the Play-Off between the Cowboys and the Giants is first brought up, there is a group of old men at a diner who are betting on who will win. While one old man is calling Kevin to tell him about Spike, another old man is calling Danny to tell HIM about Spike. Both brothers are racing to get to Spike's house first to recruit him and Danny reaches it first after Kevin has to stop and wait for a train to pass by. Spike's dad asks Danny if he's Coach O'Shea and Danny says he is, because, technically it's true. Mr. Spike then goes on to gush about what a big fan he is of his and how his family moved to Urbania because of him, clearly thinking he's the famed football player from this town, but is quite surprised by how small he is for a football player. Uh...if this guy is such a fan of Kevin O'Shea, wouldn't he know what he looks like?? Unless he just listened to all the football games on the radio?? Still...you think he would have seen a picture of him in the paper? This didn't make any sense at all! However, Kevin tells Mr. Spike he's the real coach and Mr. Spike tells his son he's going to play for the "real" team and Spike is like, "Thank the football Gods!" Now, why did Kevin never do this for Junior and take him for his team? But, like I said, it would probably be a moot point anyway because I don't think Junior would take the bait.
Speaking of Junior, Becky still has a huge crush on him, but doesn't think he sees her as a girl since she's "one of the guys". She thinks Junior is more interested in her cousin, Debbie, who is a cheerleader. There's a scene where Becky and Junior are hanging out at a lake and a couple are in a rowboat making out and Junior is just disgusted by it. This boy absolutely has no interest in the opposite sex at all. Not at this point anyway. This scene kinda reminded me of that scene in Now and Then between Devon Sawa (coincidentally! But that's probably why I was reminded of it!) and Christina Ricci who also plays a tomboy where Sawa wants to kiss Ricci but she's having no interest in it at all, only here the roles are reversed where Becky wants to kiss Junior and he has no interest. In a very bizarre line, Becky tells him that it might be important to learn how to kiss to have kids or a job. Junior points out you don't need to know how to kiss to have kids, which, technically, he's right. But what the hell? You have to know how to kiss to get a job? Maybe if you're an actor...but....huh???? Who is telling this girl that? That makes no sense at all!
Becky wants to be so liked by Junior that she decides to be a cheerleader at the Big Game instead of play in it. :::MAJOREYEROLL:::: You're killing me, Ice Box! All the kids are freaking out because they've lost their one good player (aside from Junior) and some pretty gruesome lines are brought up such as when one kid says, "Without Becky, Spike's gonna open my face and wear it for Halloween!" And when Danny reveals the new uniforms, one kid calls them "death shrouds" and after Danny tells them the uniforms have their names on them (more like nicknames), Jake says, "So the guys at the morgue can identify the bodies." So these Giants have no confidence at all and are pretty sure they are all going to die!
There is a hilarious moment with the Cowboys in their locker room where they are about to pray with a priest that Kevin has brought in, but all the boys are being rowdy and their coach yells at them, "Quiet down for Christ's sake!" OMG, that cracked me up! That was good. The first half of the game, the Giants are sucking really bad. The kid who can never catch the ball puts some tar on his hands (or something..didn't quite catch what it was), but when they have a huddle and all the kids clap their hands together, he also does and his hands are stuck together. D'oh!
Of course Becky ends up playing in the second half after Spike is being a big bully and injures Junior, so she puts on her gear to join the game and there's a cute scene where her dad says, "You sure you want to do this, Becky?" and she replies, "Call me Ice Box" and Junior says to her, "Hey, Ice Box, kick some butt" and she replies, "Call me Becky."
Somehow, (I guess it was the encouraging speech they were given by their coach at halftime), the score is tied and there are only four seconds left in the game. The Giants win it (big shock, I know) with a little play the bespectacled blond kid dubbed "The Annexation of Puerto Rico." Look, despite living in a football-crazed state, I know nothing about football....absolutely nothing. Do I look like I watch the Super Bowl? (Cuz I don't!) Basically, The Annexation of Puerto Rico was taken out of Steve Madden's gameplay book (who makes a cameo in this movie along with Emmit Smith and three other football players whose names I didn't recognize (cuz I don't follow football)) and it's a trick play that involves making the opposing team think someone else has the ball when in fact another player actually has it. I did some research on this and Time did a piece on Film's Seven Greatest Trick Plays which you can read here if you click the link. The Annexation of Puerto Rico made #2 on their list and it is a good read to see what the play is rather than me trying to describe it!
When the Giants win the game, Becky and Junior are holding hands and jumping up and down, excitedly saying, "We won, we won!" There's a moment where it looks like they're going to kiss, but they don't and continue their excited chant. Perhaps it's a good thing they're not going to start anything romantic because Becky's dad asks out Junior's mom and THEY kiss. Okay, seriously if I had a crush on a guy who looked like Devon Sawa and my single dad started dating the cute guy's single mom, I'd be a bit peeved! But Becky never seems angry about it...and she knows her dad likes Junior's mom. It was just very odd. There's a very good chance the guy she likes could become her STEPBROTHER! Ewwwwww! I did read that there was suppose to be a sequel to this movie, but obviously that never happened. I'm sure there's some twisted fanfic about this out there somewhere.
The brothers agree to combine the teams into one big one so everyone can play and they will co-coach it together. I would feel bad if the kids who were really good at football and tried out to be on a team wouldn't even get to play. The Hawks may have lost to the Ducks, but they still got to be on a team and play hockey at the end of the day, so I like that all the kids in this film get to be on a team and represent their town, though I wonder if they were the Cowboys or the Giants? The Little Cowboys? The Giant Cows?