Little Giants
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDuwayne Dunham
Screenplay by
Story byJames Ferguson
Robert Shallcross
Produced byArne Schmidt
CinematographyJanusz Kamiński
Edited byDonn Cambern
Music byJohn Debney
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • October 14, 1994 (1994-10-14)
Running time
106 minutes
Budget$20 million
Box office$19.3 million

Little Giants is a 1994 American family sports comedy film directed by Duwayne Dunham and written by James Ferguson, Robert Shallcross, Tommy Swerdlow, Michael Goldberg from the story by Ferguson and Shallcross. The film stars Rick Moranis and Ed O'Neill as Danny and Kevin O'Shea, two brothers living in a small Ohio town who coach rival Pee-Wee Football teams.[1] The film was produced by Amblin Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros. under their Warner Bros. Family Entertainment label.


Danny O'Shea has always lived in the shadow of his older brother Kevin, a Heisman Trophy winner and local football hero. They live in Urbania, Ohio. Kevin coaches the "Pee-Wee Cowboys" football team. Despite being the best player, Danny's daughter Becky, nicknamed Icebox, is cut during try outs solely because she is a girl. Also cut are her less-talented friends, Rashid Hanon, Tad Simpson, and Rudy Zolteck. After being ridiculed by the players who made the team, she convinces her dad to coach a new pee-wee team of their own.

At first, Danny is reluctant to do so, but later accepts in an attempt to show Urbania that Kevin is not invincible, and that there is another O'Shea in town capable of winning. Kevin reminds him of the "one town, one team" rule enforced by the pee-wee football League, and with the support of the locals, they decide to have a playoff game to determine the lone team that will represent Urbania. Alongside Becky, Hanon, Tad, Rudy, and Nubie (an intelligent boy who becomes assistant coach), Danny gathers other children that have never been given a chance and dubs the team the "Little Giants." One such player, strong-armed quarterback Junior Floyd, is the son of Danny's childhood crush, Patty Floyd.

Two old-timers, Orville and Wilbur, encourage the rivalry between Danny and Kevin, reporting to them that a new star player, Spike Hammersmith, has just moved to Urbania. Danny recruits him by tricking his overzealous father, Mike, into believing he is the famous "Coach O'Shea". However, Spike proves to be rude and arrogant and refuses to play on a team with a girl. The deception is later discovered and he switches over to Kevin's team. Kevin also encourages his daughter, Debbie, to become a cheerleader and later tells Becky that a quarterback will want to date a cheerleader, not a teammate. Believing it is her best chance to win over Junior and feeling exploited as her father's best player, she decides to quit the Giants and pursue cheerleading.

Just as Danny's team start to lose hope, a bus arrives carrying NFL stars John Madden, Emmitt Smith, Bruce Smith, Tim Brown, and Steve Emtman. They teach the kids about football and inspire them to believe they can win.

The day of the game, Kevin goads Danny into making a bet: If Danny wins, he gets Kevin's Chevrolet dealership; if Kevin wins, he gets Danny's gas station. Facing a 21-point halftime deficit, the Giants' spirits are lifted when Danny gives them a speech, inspiring them to each remember a time when they had a unique accomplishment. He reassures them that they only need to beat the Cowboys one time to prove themselves. With this, they begin to play better and make a comeback. Realizing that Junior is the main threat to the Cowboys, Mike Hammersmith orders Spike to take Junior out of the game; Spike injures Junior by spearing him with his helmet after the whistle, leading Kevin to reprimand Mike for his son's unsportsmanlike conduct.

Witnessing the attack on Junior from the sidelines, an enraged Becky drops her pompoms and suits up for the game. She makes an impact when she forces a fumble after a jarring hit on Spike. In the game's closing seconds with the score tied at 21, the Giants make a goal line stand when Becky stops Spike. With time remaining for one final play, their offense steps back onto the field and uses a trick play Nubie calls "The Annexation of Puerto Rico," inspired by Tom Osborne's famous “fumblerooski”. Kevin shouts out its actual name as it occurs, shouting "Fumblerooski, Fumblerooski!" The play includes three different ball carriers, utilizing the hook and lateral from Zolteck, to Junior, and finally to Berman, who scores the Giants' 99 yard game-winning touchdown.

Afterwards, Danny suggests that rather than having the Giants solely represent Urbania, they should merge with the Cowboys, so that both he and Kevin can coach the team. Danny and Patty rekindle their childhood romance. He also decides not to hold Kevin to the prior bet, on the stipulation that the town water tower be changed from "Home of Kevin O'Shea" to "Home of The O'Shea Brothers," reflecting a much earlier promise that Kevin made to Danny from their childhood at the beginning of the movie.



The film was inspired by a 1992 McDonald's Super Bowl commercial[2] developed by Jim Ferguson and Bob Shallcross. According to The Baltimore Sun,[3] after seeing the commercial, Steven Spielberg contacted them and said, "I want that commercial made into a movie. I want my 'Home Alone.'"[4] It was filmed from May 10 to Sep 3, 1994.


The film received mixed reviews. Stephen Holden remarked, in The New York Times, that "anyone who was ever rejected or picked last for a team can relate to the concept behind "Little Giants," a slickly contrived family movie about an inept junior football team that succeeds in spite of spectacular liabilities [...]"Little Giants," which was directed by Duwayne Dunham, devotes much of its energy to such comic antics as balls getting stuck into face masks, and wispy little kids practicing looking intimidating."[5] Hal Hinson of The Washington Post stated that "if "Little Giants" were in a beauty pageant it might win votes for Miss Congeniality, but it definitely wouldn't take the crown."[6] Conversely, the Los Angeles Times suggested that the film was "smarter than many of its ilk. Clearly a great deal of care and thought has gone into making special a picture that could so easily have been routine family fare."[7] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently holds a 36% approval rating with a 4.8/10 average rating, based on 11 reviews.[8]

Box office

The film had a budget of $20 million and failed to recoup it, with a total of $19.3 million in box office returns,[9][10][11][12] making it a disappointment at the box office.

Year-end lists

Cultural references

In a 2010 NCAA football game, Michigan State defeated Notre Dame on a fake field goal touchdown pass in overtime to end the game. Head coach Mark Dantonio said the play was called "Little Giants".[14]

The uniforms worn by the Cowboys in the film were the same ones worn by the Dallas Cowboys during the 1994 season as part of the NFL's 75th anniversary. From 2004 to 2007, the New York Giants' alternate jerseys were red with white numerals, similar to the jerseys worn by the Little Giants in the movie.

Home media

On February 7, 1995, Warner Home Video released Little Giants on VHS and LaserDisc. The VHS tape includes a Merrie Melodies cartoon, One Froggy Evening, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Michigan J. Frog. On July 8, 2003, the film was released on DVD. On March 29, 2011, the film was re-released in a four pack: 4 Film Favorites: Kids Sports (along with Little Big League, Surf Ninjas, and Hometown Legend).

See also


  1. ^ Judy Brennan (August 21, 1994). "PEEWEES' PLAYHOUSE : New Quarterback Takes 'Little Giants' Toward Goal". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 9, 2020. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  2. ^ "McDonald's Super Bowl XXVI ad Pee Wee Football". February 13, 2014. Retrieved February 15, 2022 – via YouTube.
  3. ^ "'Little Giants' a big hit not to be written off". The Baltimore Sun. October 21, 1994. Archived from the original on January 24, 2018. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  4. ^ "8 Things Even Football Fans Don't Know About The Super Bowl". HuffPost. January 30, 2015. Archived from the original on April 21, 2021. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  5. ^ Holden, Stephen (October 14, 1994). "Little Giants (1994) FILM REVIEW; Extra Points For Trying". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 9, 2020. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  6. ^ "'Little Giants' (PG)". The Washington Post. October 17, 1994. Archived from the original on October 31, 2017. Retrieved July 16, 2012.
  7. ^ Thomas, Kevin (October 14, 1994). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Giants': A Comedy Worthy of Cheers". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 9, 2020. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  8. ^ Little Giants (1994), archived from the original on April 7, 2021, retrieved July 6, 2021
  9. ^ ROBERT W. WELKOS (October 18, 1994). "Weekend Box Office : 'Fiction' Outdraws 'The Specialist'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 9, 2020. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  10. ^ ROBERT W. WELKOS (October 25, 1994). "Weekend Box Office : 'Pulp Fiction' Stays in No. 1". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 9, 2020. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  11. ^ ELAINE DUTKA (November 1, 1994). "Weekend Box Office : 'Stargate' Has MGM Starry-Eyed". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 9, 2020. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  12. ^ ROBERT W. WELKOS (November 8, 1994). "Weekend Box Office : 'Stargate' a Back-to-Back Champ". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 9, 2020. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  13. ^ Arnold, William (December 30, 1994). "'94 Movies: Best and Worst". Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Final ed.). p. 20.
  14. ^ Peter Tirrell (October 29, 2010). "2010 Notre Dame at MSU "Little Giants" fake field goal called by George Blaha". Archived from the original on December 21, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2017 – via YouTube.