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The Little Rascals Review

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Spanky (Tedford, aged five) and his chums are "Womun Haters" and thus sworn to undermine lovelorn Alfalfa's (Hall, nine) courtship of Darla (Ashton Holmes, five), but the new kid in town is moving in on Alfalfa's territory and he doesn't like it.

★★★★

After the relative heights of Wayne's World, Penelope Spheeris' pictures are getting progressively worse. What sounded like a bad idea before it started shooting, proves such an atrocity that it makes her last effort, The Beverly Hillbillies, look almost Oscar-worthy.

The original Little Rascals were the creation of legendary comedy producer Hal Roach, who made more than 200 shorts in the '20s and '30s featuring a gang of cheerful, pipsqueak pranksters. The times, though, have changed. These Little Rascals - chiefly bossy Spanky, Alfalfa the Romeo, Buckwheat the nitwit, Darla the demanding dish, and Petey the dog - are deposited in a vague contemporary/yesteryear milieu in which neither costumes, kiddie cars nor vocabulary find a pleasing style.

Spanky (Tedford, aged five) and his chums are "Womun Haters" and thus sworn to undermine lovelorn Alfalfa's (Hall, nine) courtship of Darla (Ashton Holmes, five). The stars - some of whom are cute but none of whom display any striking charm or ease in front of camera - ape antique adult stereotypes in a script written by committee.

Most of the antics are pitched at a four-year-old mentality, but since toddlers don't buy tickets there are crude concessions to grown-ups who might. These take the form of such staggeringly inappropriate chunks of vulgarity, sexism and homophobia that the Carry On stalwarts would have blushed to deliver them. In fact, it's mind-blowing just how many lavatorial and genital jests are potentially put in the mouths of babes.

What sounded like a bad idea before it started shooting, proves such an atrocity that it makes her last effort, The Beverly Hillbillies, look almost Oscar-worthy.