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‘Little Giants’ (PG)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 17, 1994

If "Little Giants" were in a beauty pageant it might win votes for Miss Congeniality, but it definitely wouldn't take the crown.

Set in the small town of Urbania, Ohio, this cute, friendly and relatively innocuous film revolves around a lifelong rivalry between two brothers. Kevin O'Shea (Ed O'Neill) is a Heisman Trophy-winning football star so renowned that his name is emblazoned on the town water tower. Danny (Rick Moranis), on the other hand, is athletically impaired and has always lived in his brother's shadow. When Urbania forms a Pop Warner football squad, naturally Kevin is chosen as its coach. But when he excludes some of the less gifted kids from the roster -- including Danny's tomboy daughter Becky (Shawna Waldron) -- a second team is built around the rejects.

With Danny as coach, the so-called "Little Giants" challenge Kevin's Cowboys, setting up a climactic showdown. But not only is the big game anticlimactic and its outcome predictable, getting there seems to take forever. There are all sorts of subplots and mini-intrigues, such as Becky's crush on the Giants' heartthrob quarterback, Junior (Devon Sawa), and Danny's courtship of Junior's mom (Susanna Thompson). There is also a brief visit from the real-life football celebrity John Madden, whose bus gets lost in Urbania.

Directed by Duwayne Dunham, a David Lynch alum who also directed the much superior "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey," "Little Giants" is about believing in yourself. One day, the movie tells us, you just might win. That may be so, but when Madden's bus pulled away, I wished I were on it.

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