PG, 98 minutes
In a Nutshell:
This family flick goes straight to DVD release on March 30, 2014. The Our Gang franchise began in 1922 and my mother was actually named after Darla because her mother thought the Little Rascals were so darn cute. Also known as Hal Roach’s Rascals, the series was the first of its kind to film black and white children actors together.
Little Rascal fans will be pleased to see more mischief, clever inventions and kid shenanigans as they try to raise money to save their grandma’s bakery. They all call her “Grandma” (Doris Roberts who is surprisingly terrible in this), but I think she’s actually supposed to be Spanky’s relative.
Teens and some parents will be bored and roll their eyes, but little children and nostalgic grandparents should get a kick out of it. “And how.”
• In the wise words of Grandma “A good leader has to be also a good listener, because you can’t just give orders; you have to inspire.”
• Grandma also said “You have your friends…that’s what’s important. Not until you all come together do you become something wonderful.”
Things I liked:
• Alfalfa (Drew Justice), Darla (Eden Wood), and Spanky (Jet Jurgensmeyer) were all adorable. Sadly, the others were forgettable.
• I loved Cecil’s smile. Wait until you see who Cecil is.
• I also thought it was cute to put the fish in the rinse cycle.
• Little kids will get a kick out of the slapstick comedy provided by Sergio (Brian Stepanek) and Officer Kennedy (Lex Medlin from Heroes).
Things I didn’t like:
• This version has the flavor of the 1920’s Rascals we all know and love, but oddly mixes in some modern elements that don’t quite fit, such as Waldo, the child villain, (played by Grant Palmer II) who has an iPod and a kid-sized Hummer. Other modern cars are seen on the streets next to old-timey buildings, as if the director (Alex Zamm) couldn’t decide in which era he wanted to film.
• I liked the 1994 version so much better.
• Buckwheat is usually one of my favorite characters, but in this version he disappeared into the background without much charm.
• The comedic talents of French Stewart, Mindy Sterling, and Greg Germann were underutilized.
• There isn’t much of a plot, but it’s still harmless fun.
• “I’m not bossy. I just tell people what to do.” – Spanky
• “We’re older than we look. Why, I’m almost 9.” - Spanky
• “Sounds like a moose trying to sing.” – Porky
• “What should we have for dessert?” asks Stymie. “More!” replies Mary Anne.
• “That’s a lot of cute, little…people.” - Big Ray
• “Simmer down, Hot Sauce!” – Spanky
• “I don’t like him.” “Me neither.” Me threether.” – the kids
• Waldo asks “What kind of girl are you?” and Darla replies “The kind of girl who doesn’t like cheaters…and who has a brown belt in karate.”
• A German choreographer tries to get Darla and Waldo ready for their talent show performance when he says to them “I want to see a little more ‘I’m a Pre-Teen Idol…worship me!’ and a little less ‘I’m your next President…vote for me.’”
Things to look for:
• Look at the marquee at the theater in the movie and you’ll notice it advertises a Hal Roach Film Festival. The MC of the talent show is Leo McCarey (played by Robert Torti), one of the men who worked for Roach and directed many of the Rascals films.
• Kids will like the style of the rolling credits. About half-way through, there is a short clip of Waldo’s new tree house.
• Keep watching until the end of the rolling credits to see Cecil smile again.
Tips for parents: No bad language, but a tiny bit of rude humor. Of course, there is no parental guidance and the kids are always free to roam around and get into trouble. Where ARE their parents?