A Little Romance

  • Review Date: November 30, 2011
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 1979
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Young love is sweet, romantic, with some teen rebellion.
  • Review Date: November 30, 2011
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 1979
  • Running Time: 110 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Two kids who feel isolated because of their hyper-intelligence and unusual interests find that it's okay to be different, and learn that there are like-minded others with whom they can form wonderful friendships. Initial judgments based on appearances and superficial qualities can be misleading; people are often not what they seem to be and may surprise. And finally, the best parent-child relationships are a result of trust, honesty, and mutual respect.   

Positive role models

Parents run the gamut from a hard-drinking gambler-father, to a flirtatious, insensitive, and self-involved mother, and finally, represent the ideal in a stepfather who is compassionate, reliable, honest, and beyond reproach. Though two young teens experiencing the exhilaration of first love make naive choices when they opt to run away together, they are sympathetic throughout. They behave responsibly, intelligently, and show concern for others.


The primary action comes from brief clips of classic American movies: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Butch and Sundance jump from a cliff), True Grit (John Wayne in a chase on horseback with guns blazing), and The Sting (in a wide shot, a bullet hits a character in the back; he drops). In the movie itself, the male teen protagonist punches an obnoxious movie director in the stomach and accidentally knocks down an elderly man.


No actual sexual activity or nudity, but some innuendo or sexual language ("get laid"). Two young teens in love kiss several times. Boys ogle a well-endowed woman; one of them is fascinated by female breasts. It's quite clear that a group of young teens in a movie theater projection room is watching a pornographic film; we see only their reaction and hear some mild heavy breathing and moaning. A movie poster shows a man in bulging underwear. Statues in a Paris art museum show male genitals, resulting in reactions from two girls: "Have you ever seen a real one?" and "Have you ever done it?" There are hints of marital infidelity; a mother flirts openly with a friend in front of her husband and daughter.


Occasional swearing: "hell," "ass," "boobs," "Goddamn," "taking a leak," "maybe I'll get laid," "bust his butt," "bastards," and "Jesus Christ."


McDonald's, Kodak -- both in the context of the story.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

At a party four young teens sneak a bottle of champagne to the birthday girl's bedroom and drink it to celebrate; one of the girls gets tipsy. Adults consume wine and champagne in several social settings. The father of the young French hero is shown drinking whiskey; the implication is that he may be a man who drinks too much. A young Parisian boy smokes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this love story about two very young teens includes a few gentle kisses that seem appropriate for their age and level of maturity. The romantic leads disobey their parents, but not without guilt and consequences; they also sneak off with a bottle of champagne, but it doesn't turn into a drunken spectacle. Some kids start to watch a pornographic film, however, the movie is not seen and is identified only by the reaction of the teens and the sounds of some heavy breathing and moaning. Several nude male sculptures are on display in a Paris museum. Occasional swearing is heard (i.e. "hell," "boobs," "bastards," "Jesus Christ,"). Adults drink wine and champagne in moderation on several occasions. Action scenes are restricted to one punch, a collision during a foot chase, and short clips from old movies.

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What's the story?

Lauren (Diane Lane, 13 years old, in her first film role) is an American girl living with her well-to-do parents in Paris in 1979. She's brighter than most, with a philosophical bent, and has few friends. Daniel (Thelonius Bernard) is a brilliant, free-spirited French boy, obsessed with American movies. When the two meet there's an immediate, joyful connection as Daniel shares "his Paris" with Lauren. But though their relationship intensifies quickly, circumstances and a shallow mother get in their way. Determined to be together, they embark on a daring quest to share a legendary kiss under the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy at sundown. Their only ally is a charming, elderly Frenchman (Laurence Olivier), who unknowingly aids them on their runaway adventure.

Is it any good?


There's a wonderful innocence and sincerity to this story of first love, with none of the harsh edges that seem to characterize more recent popular teen romances. Open-hearted young teens, even preteens, will relate to the characters, root for them, and most likely, experience the romance along with Lauren and Daniel.

It's a film parents can share and enjoy, too. Diane Lane is terrific in her film debut. Paris and the Italian cities of Verona and Venice cast their enchanted spells, and the Academy Award-winning musical score is sparkling, as well. Even a few one-dimensional characters and some outrageous over-acting (at the risk of tarnishing an icon, Olivier's performance is dazzlingly hammy) can't spoil the sweetness of this film.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the two very distinct lifestyles this movie portrays. In spite of the differences in upbringing, how were Lauren and Daniel the same? What did they learn from each other?

  • Describe the qualities that made Lauren's stepdad, Richard, the most effective parent in this film. Are there any people like Richard in your life?

  • This movie is set in 1979. Do you think teens have changed in how they choose to rebel against their parents' demands and expectations? Do the behaviors exhibited now seem more or less dangerous than the ones depicted in this film?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 27, 1979
DVD release date:January 3, 2003
Cast:Diane Lane, Laurence Olivier, Thelonius Bernard
Director:George Roy Hill
Studio:Warner Home Video
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of A Little Romance was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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