On Oct. 14, 1994, the football movie Little Giants hit theaters. It wasn’t a box office smash or a particularly well-reviewed film. It didn’t rewrite the rules of sports movies or become the kind of cultural phenomenon that everyone, even those who were born after its release, quotes today.
It’s cheesy, cliched, and relies heavily on bodily function humor.
And it’s an absolute delight.
Twenty-five years later, Little Giants is still a sweet, feel-good movie that can transport you back to a time when things were simpler, yet more complicated in other ways. That feeling of being counted out and of not quite fitting in — and then you find the people who make you feel like you belong and that together, you can do anything, even when it seems impossible. Because it just takes one time.
Rick Moranis and Ed O’Neill star as mismatched brothers, and neither is playing against type. Moranis is the well-meaning father who maybe gets a little too singularly focused on his mission. O’Neill is the gruff, sexist ex-football player who has a hidden soft side. They are both wonderful.
John Madden stops by with future Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith, Bruce Smith, and Tim Brown, as well as former No. 1 pick Steve Emtman, to give the underdog team a pivotal pep talk.
However, the legacy of Little Giants lies with two other elements. The first is “The Annexation of Puerto Rico,” the trick play at the climax of the movie that’s a variation of a Fumblerooski. The second is what sets it apart from so many other kids sports movies, especially at the time. The heart of the movie belongs to a girl: Becky “Icebox” O’Shea.
Some of us grew up with Little Giants while others discovered it as adult. One thing we all share in common is that watching it now leaves us with a smile on our face.
For its 25th anniversary, SB Nation is celebrating Little Giants, a movie for the kid in all of us, all week long.