In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb wildlife

Wildlife

One never senses judgment from Dano, Kazan, Gyllenhaal, or Mulligan—they recognize that there’s beauty even in the mistakes we make in life. It’s what makes…

Thumb can forgive

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me? comes from a place of understanding and love that few other biopics do, and it makes this difficult character a…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Reviews

Little Giants

  |   May Contain Spoilers

Just yesterday I was cleaning out the office and I threw away a paperback by Syd Field, the famous Hollywood screenplay coach. Field is the man who is largely responsible for that strange feeling you may have had lately, that every movie seems to be about the same. The characters, locations and gimmicks may change - but the story structure is right out of the book.

Field teaches screenwriting workshops. The workshops don't seem able to teach you how to write like yourself, but they sure are able to teach you how to write like everyone else. At a time when Hollywood is bashful about originality, it's a real career asset to be able to write clone screenplays.

Advertisement

Look at "Little Giants," written by James Ferguson, Robert Shallcross, Tommy Swerdlow and Michael Goldberg. What do you mean, it's one of the stupidest movies you've seen? It got sold, didn't it? And it got made, didn't it? So that makes it a success, doesn't it? It's mind-boggling to reflect that this screenplay actually involved work by four writers. It's such a small achievement, their division of labor must have resembled splitting the atom. I don't have any idea if Ferguson, Shallcross, Swerdlow and Goldberg have ever attended one of Field's workshops. Maybe they didn't need to.

Working in two platoons, they have skillfully removed all vestiges of originality from this story, and turned in a perfectly-honed retread of every other movie about how a team of losers wins the big game.

Oops! I gave away the ending! The plot stars Ed O'Neill and Rick Moranis as two brothers in the small town of Urbania, Ohio. O'Neill is a football hero and Heisman Trophy winner. Moranis is a nerd who runs a gas station. His daughter Becky (Shawna Waldron) is one of the best football players in town, but when O'Neill chooses a team for the Pop Warner League, he doesn't choose Becky, 'cause she's a girl.

He also doesn't choose the fat kid, the skinny kid, the kid who drops every pass, etc.

Moranis thinks it's unfair. So he decides to coach his own team - the Little Giants. At first they are utterly incompetent. Then John Madden and a bunch of pro stars (Emmitt Smith, Bruce Smith, Tim Brown and Steve Emtman) turn up in town after their bus gets lost. And they give the kids some quick lessons, turning them into only severely incompetent players.

Comes the day for the big game between O'Neill's jocks and the Little Giants. The O'Neill team includes a mountainous kid named Spike, who speaks of himself in the third person, and whose father has the movie's only funny line: "Every night before he goes to bed I massage his hamstrings with evaporated milk." Spike of course is the instant enemy of Becky, who has despaired of playing football as a girl, and joined the cheerleading squad. But after the first half ends disastrously, she gets steamed, and runs out on the field wearing her helmet, shoulder pads, jersey - and, of course, cheerleader skirt.

Little kids may like this movie, if they've never seen one like it before. Slightly older kids with good memories will notice that this is not even the first movie this year where a character passes gas to knock out the other team. Even older viewers are likely to bitterly resent the fate that drew them into the theater.

Advertisement

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Netflix’s Terrifying, Moving The Haunting of Hill House is Essential Viewing

A review of Mike Flanagan's new horror series based on the Shirley Jackson novel, The Haunting of Hill House.

Always Leave 'Em Laughing: Peter Bogdanovich on Buster Keaton, superheroes, television, and the effect of time on movies

Peter Bogdanovich, film historian and filmmaker, talks about Buster Keaton, the subject of his new documentary.

Why The Godfather, Part II is the Best of the Trilogy

A look back at one of the best films of all time.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus