Little Rascals, The
The Little Rascals is the updated version of the classic 1930's film series based on the antics of a gang of little boys. In this latest episode, Spanky and the gang, along with their pet dog, Petey, and pet monkey, Elmer, try to foil the romance between Alfalfa and Darla. As the movie opens, the gang has formed the "He-man Womun Haters Club" and believes that Alfalfa is a traitor because he is wooing Darla. In the opening scenes, when the gang is called to order by the president, Spanky, we see some of the gang's mascots; Petey, the dog; Elmer, the monkey; and Froggy's pet lizard. Petey, with his signature black circle around one eye, does several reaction poses, such as sitting up, covering his ears, barking and raising his right paw. Elmer, who is dressed in overalls, sits with Uh-Huh, named for his only response to everything. Froggy takes his lizard out of his pocket and pets it. For this scene, the animals were given verbal and visual commands by their trainers and food rewards. The costume which the monkey wore was very loose-fitting. The lizard was placed in the boy's pocket by the trainer prior to the shot and the boy merely lifted him out. The black circle around Petey's eye was a trademark characteristic of the original Petey and was duplicated with non-toxic vegetable dye for this film. The gang discovers Alfalfa singing to Darla in a rowboat on a canal. The gang, along with Petey, gathers on a bridge and learns of a luncheon which Alfalfa plans to have with Darla in their clubhouse. The clubhouse is supposedly off limits to girls. We see Petey on the bridge putting his paws on the railing and covering his eyes. Elmer is also there, riding on the shoulder of one of the boys. For this scene, the animals had responded to the verbal commands of their trainers and the monkey had been placed, by his trainer, on the boy's shoulder prior to the shot. As an added precaution, there were frogmen and stunt people in the water out of camera range. Alfalfa goes to pick Darla up for their lunch date and is knocked down by a Doberman, Fifi, owned by Waldo Aloysius Johnston III, who is also vying for Darla's affections. Waldo claps twice and the dog retreats. To create an ominous effect, this scene was shot in cuts. We see the dog running toward Alfalfa and making a leap at him. Then we see the dog standing over Alfalfa who is lying on the ground. For this scene, one trainer held the dog behind a tree as the second trainer, standing on a low platform next to the camera, called the dog to come. The dog ran to the second trainer and jumped up onto the platform. For the second shot, one trainer positioned the dog, straddling the boy, while a second trainer was off camera behind the boy's head telling the dog to stay. Food rewards were given the dog. When Waldo claps and the dog gets back into the car, it is really the trainer giving the dog commands. Later in the film, there is another scene where Fifi chases Alfalfa who dives into a pool to escape the dog. Alfalfa is being chased by two arch rivals, Butch and Woim, and he unwittingly runs into Waldo's yard. Fifi jumps over the fence and chases Alfalfa around the swimming pool until Alfalfa jumps in to save himself. For this scene the dog ran from point A to point B and jumped over the fence on the verbal command of the trainer. The fence had bendable plastic top ends for the safety of the dog. In trying to foil Alfalfa's candlelight luncheon with Darla at the clubhouse, the gang sabotages the food and inadvertently burns the place down. As the candles catch the clubhouse on fire, the rascals frantically try to put it out.. Petey does his part by urinating on the flames and Elmer watches the action through binoculars. For this scene, the flames were controlled with a firebar, a perforated tube for butane, supplied by the special effects department. When the dog urinates on the flames, he is actually three feet from the firebar being given verbal and visual commands by the trainer who stood just out of camera range. There were two buckets of water between the dog and the flames and a lightweight vinal tube hidden near the dog which squirted water to simulate the dog urinating. For added caution there was a rainbird sprinkler system on the set. The monkey was preparred in advance and given visual and verbal commands by the trainer and rewarded with food. The gang puts Alfalfa on trial for starting the fire. As his punishment he must guard their go-cart which they hope will win the race at the upcoming fair and earn them the money to rebuild the clubhouse. Butch and Woim try to steal the go-cart. In one attempt, when Alfalfa leaves the cart with Porky and Buckwheat, the would-be thieves lure them away by tying a dollar bill to a string tied to the leg of a duck. The duck waddles past the boys and they go after it and the dollar. However, the cart is booby trapped and the thieves get doused with pickle juice while Porky and Buckwheat get a dollar. For this scene, the string was loosely looped around the duck's foot. One trainer released the duck and a second trainer used a buzzer to call the duck, who was then rewarded with food. In another series of scenes, Alfalfa and Spanky are both trying to escape from Butch and Woim. They run into the building where a dance recital is being held. In order to hide, they dress up as ballerinas, complete with tutus, tights and girls' wigs. Alfalfa had had a frog in his pocket upon entering the building and it gets caught in his costume. He hands it off to Spanky, who tries to hide it in his tights. Eventually, it appears under the wig that Spanky loses and we see the wig jumping on the ground. For this scene, the trainer placed the frog in the boy's hands. When we see the wig jumping, there is no frog underneath. The wig is being operated like a puppet and the frog croaking is sound effects. In another scene, Alfalfa is on his way to the fair. He gets into the go-cart, Petey jumps in beside him and they take off. After the race, there is another scene in which Petey jumps into the go-cart. For both of these scenes, there was a trainer off camera giving the dog verbal and hand commands. At other times Petey is seen riding in a wagon that is being pulled by one of the boys. For these scenes, the trainer placed the dog in the wagon and walked alongside, out of camera range, telling the dog to stay. At the fair there is a petting zoo in the background and an organ grinder and his monkey. The zoo animals were allowed to freely move in their areas and there were wranglers near-by. The monkey was placed by a trainer on the organ grinder's box prior to shooting and the trainer remained just off camera. In one final scene, after the rascals win the race, Butch and Woim, the bullies, get pushed into the muddy pig stall at the fair. For this scene the pig had been tethered with a loose cable anchored to the ground The stall fence, which breaks when the boys are pushed, had been made of light balsa wood.
- Starring: Travis Tedford and Bug Hall
- Director(s): Steven Spielberg
- Producer(s): Amblin Entertainment
- Screenwriter(s): Jeff Rothberg, Laurice Elehwany
- Distributor: Universal Pictures
- Release Date: Thursday, June 09, 1994
- Rating: Acceptable
Featured Animal Action
In other mild background animal scenes throughout the film, we see Petey and Elmer with the rascals. In these scenes the animals are usually sitting or lying near the group. Trainers were always on hand giving the animals verbal and hand commands and rewarding them with food. At the end of the movie, many of the rascals find themselves thinking that girls aren't so bad after all. Elmer even gets together with the organ grinder's monkey and they kiss, hold hands, and jump up and down. For this scene, the trainers placed the monkeys on a table in the clubhouse and cued them to do the tricks.