|The Little Rascals|
|Directed by||Penelope Spheeris|
|Screenplay by||Paul Guay|
|Story by||Paul Guay|
|Based on||Our Gang|
by Hal Roach
|Produced by||Bill Oakes|
Gerald R. Molen
|Edited by||Ross Albert|
|Music by||William Ross|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$67.3 million|
The Little Rascals is a 1994 American family comedy film produced by Amblin Entertainment, and released by Universal Pictures on August 5, 1994. The film is an adaptation of Hal Roach's Our Gang, a series of short films of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s (many of which were broadcast on television as The Little Rascals) which centered on the adventures of a group of neighborhood children. The film, with a screenplay by Paul Guay, Stephen Mazur, and Penelope Spheeris – who also directed – presents several of the Our Gang characters in an updated setting, and features re-interpretations of several of the original shorts. It is the first collaboration by Guay and Mazur, whose subsequent comedies were Liar Liar and Heartbreakers.
Another film based on Our Gang, The Little Rascals Save the Day, was released as a direct-to-video feature in 2014.
Spanky is the president of the "He-Man Woman ('woman' is misspelled as 'womun') Haters Club" with many school-aged boys from around the neighborhood as members. His best friend, Alfalfa, has been chosen as the driver for the club's prize-winning undefeated go-kart, "The Blur", in the annual Soap Box Derby style race. However, when the announcement is made, Alfalfa is nowhere to be found.
The boys catch Alfalfa in the company of Darla. The club's members try their hardest to break the two apart, eventually causing their beloved clubhouse to burn down. Darla is mistakenly led to believe Alfalfa feels ashamed of her, so she turns her attentions to Waldo, the new rich kid whose father is an oil tycoon. Spanky, Stymie and friends judge Alfalfa's punishment to be left guarding the go-kart day and night until the day of the race. Until that day comes, Alfalfa makes many attempts to woo back Darla including a visit to her ballet rehearsal, an undelivered love letter, and through serenade, all of which fail.
In order to rebuild their clubhouse, the boys try to fund-raise the cost of lumber, $450. But the youngest ones, Porky and Buckwheat, have unknowingly come up with $500. Their school teacher finds out about the scheme, but Spanky convinces her to use the funds as prize money for the go-kart derby.
"The Blur" is stolen by local bullies Butch and Woim. In addition to having to rebuild the clubhouse, the boys now need a new set of wheels. They band together to build "The Blur 2: The Sequel." Prior to race day, Spanky and Alfalfa reconcile and decide to ride in the two-seat go-kart together. They hope to win the prize money and the trophy, to be presented to the victors by the greatest racer of all, "A.J. Ferguson."
Butch and Woim make several sneaky attempts to stop Alfalfa and Spanky from winning the race. Waldo, who (seemingly) kicks out Darla from his race car, pulls a few tricks of his own. It's a wild race to the finish, but "The Blur 2" crosses the finish line ahead of the pack (and resulting in a photo-finish between "The Blur" and "The Blur 2" literally "by a hair" due to Alfalfa's pointy hairstyle), despite the many scrapes and crashes throughout the derby. When Butch and Woim try to beat up Alfalfa, he knocks Butch into pig slop and Woim throws himself in.
Along with first prize, Alfalfa also wins back Darla's heart after it turns out that Darla kicked Waldo out of the car, not the other way around. Spanky, meanwhile, is shocked at the trophy presentation when he finally meets his favorite driver, A.J. Ferguson -- "a girl!" As soon as the club house is rebuilt, the boys collectively have a change of heart toward membership and welcome Darla and friends to their club, with "Women Welcome" added to the sign.
At the end of the movie, it is revealed that Uh-Huh can say more than simply “Uh-Huh.” The movie closes with bloopers from the kids while filming.
Bill Thomas Jr., son of the late Bill Thomas, who played the original Buckwheat, contacted the studio and was invited down to visit the set, but got the impression that the filmmakers did not want him or any of the surviving original cast members involved in any production capacity. The surviving cast members saw this as especially hurtful, in light of the fact that director Penelope Spheeris had previously made a point of including Buddy Ebsen, from the original Beverly Hillbillies, in her 1993 feature film adaptation of that series. Eugene Jackson, who played the original Pineapple from the silent Our Gang comedies, tried unsuccessfully to contact the studio to be a part of production, stated, "It's real cold. They have no respect for the old-timers. At least they could have recognized some of the living legends surviving from the first films." Filming took place from January 11, 1994 to April 6, 1994.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 23% based on reviews from 13 critics as of April 2020. On Metacritic it has a score of 45 out of 100 based on reviews from 20 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A−" on scale of A to F.
Brian Lowry of Variety magazine wrote: "Those who grew up watching The Little Rascals may well be intrigued by the idea of introducing their kids to this full-color, bigscreen version. Still, the challenge of stretching those mildly diverting shorts to feature length remains formidable, and one has to wonder whether an audience exists beyond nostalgic parents and their young children."
The Little Rascals earned $10 million at the North American box office during its opening weekend. The film grossed a worldwide total of $67,308,282.
Many of the gags and subplots in the film were borrowed from the original Our Gang/Little Rascals shorts. These include:
The Little Rascals was released on VHS and DVD in 1995 and 2004 respectively. It made its Blu-Ray debut in 2014.