Little Children

 
(i)

 

Mature story of suburban fear and yearning.
  • Review Date: April 30, 2007
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 130 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters lie and commit adultery; a central storyline involves a convicted pedophile recently released from prison and harassed by neighbors (including graffiti on sidewalk and house); consequently, there's much discussion of pedophilia and the violent neighborhood tactics to punish him; adults tend to treat their children as accessories while behaving like children themselves.

Violence

A few football scenes are hard-hitting (sound and images); a man mutilates himself off-screen (with very bloody on-screen results); an elderly woman suffers heart failure during an argument; a fall off of a skateboard jump leaves a man in a neck brace; discussion of a past shooting.

Sex

Adulterous affair includes sexual activity and some nudity (including bottoms and breasts); intercourse on a washing machine, on the floor, in a bed; a character visits an Internet porn site and masturbates with a pair of panties on his face.

Language

Several uses of "f--k," plus other profanity.

Consumerism

Labels and brands glimpsed and/or mentioned include Porsche, FedEx, Goldfish crackers, Vanity Fair magazine, and Dunkin' Donuts.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Cigarette smoking and some social drinking; one character discusses her "mostly psychotropic" medications.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this thought-provoking drama from the director of In the Bedroom probably won't be on most kids' radar. Just as well, since it includes some very mature images and ideas, including Internet porn and masturbation, adulterous sex and lies to spouses, child abuse (discussed, not shown), self-mutilation (off-screen, but with visible bloody results), and loud, intense football action. There are repeated references to a child predator who's been released from prison (neighbors campaign against him, TV reports discuss the case, parents go into a frenzy at a public pool when he shows up); he's also the center of a very disturbing scene in which he masturbates while his blind date cries helplessly, sitting next to him in her car. There are also several sweaty sex scenes between an adulterous couple, with nudity (bottoms and breasts), though these tend to be more "romantic" than explicit. Several uses of "f--k," plus other mild profanity.

What's the story?

LITTLE CHILDREN (based on the novel by Tom Perrotta) follows several intersecting storylines having to do with parents and children -- and parents who behave like children. Todd Field's movie begins with convicted child predator Ronnie McGorvey's (Jackie Earle Haley) release and subsequent return to his mother's home. The other main story involves Brad (Patrick Wilson), a stay-at-home dad studying for his third try at the bar exam, whose wife (Jennifer Connelly) is focused on their son. One day Brad meets Sarah (Kate Winslet), who feels similarly frustrated, sad, and abandoned by her spouse, who is addicted to Internet porn. Brad and Sarah enter into a steamy affair that provides a romantic vision of themselves as desired and desirable. They spend their summer afternoons at the public pool, with their children. When Ronnie arrives at the pool, dons his flippers and snorkel, then slips into the water, parents scream for their kids to get out of the water, and the cops remove Ronnie from the premises. And so the children are "protected."

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

If Little Children -- an intricate puzzle of upper-middle-class suburban dread and desire -- is pedantic and sometimes smug in its judgments, it is also painful. As the characters try to define themselves, they are also self-deluding, which leads to tragedy.

Repeatedly, the lines separating adults and children are poorly defined. Adults are irresponsible, remaining children even as they take care of their kids. Parents pursue juvenile desires, trampling others to do so, while citing the "protection" of children as the ultimate and unassailable rationale.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the relationships between adults and children throughout the movie. Who are the "little children" of the title -- the kids or their parents? How do the adults look after their kids but also leave them vulnerable? How do the adults behave like children themselves? Why do you think Sarah and Brad are so dissatisfied with their lives? When does their relationship cross the line? Is the movie out to humanize Ronnie McGorvey, condemn him, or some of both? Do you think the characters overreact to having him in their midst, or is their fear justified?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 6, 2006
DVD release date:May 1, 2007
Cast:Jennifer Connelly, Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson
Director:Todd Field
Studio:New Line
Genre:Drama
Run time:130 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong sexuality and nudity, language and some disturbing content.

This review of Little Children was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 14 years old Written bythe wise one April 9, 2008
 

Complex story, not for kids

Adult Written byBestPicture1996 July 16, 2015
 

Great acting, but some plot hole potholes

Two people were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances here: Kate Winslet and Jackie Earle Haley. One a yearning housewife, dying to get out of the mold she's put herself in, the other a childish pedophile with a Norman Bates relationship with his mother. Both great roles fulfilled by two actors on the top of their games, Haley stands out especially, his looks (no offense) don't exactly hurt the way the audience perceives his character. The movie to me feels very "American Beauty," except in that film ample screentime was not only given to Kevin Spacey's uproarious Lester, but to nearly every one of the ensemble members. Here, Sarah's (Winslet) husband Richard is brought in for a very disturbing scene, and then mostly left in the dust. Larry (Noah Emmerich) also gets diminished time, when his grieving cop could've had something much more interesting to chew on. So while the movie does set out to be ambitious it settles for something a little less, and the ending will especially leave you with many, many moments that will have you scratching your head. And trust me, this isn't for the young ones. There are two key scenes in this movie that I wish I had a "Men in Black" memory eraser for.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 17 years old Written byPrincessCharmed797 January 25, 2013
 

Little Children

Based on a novel by Tom Perrota, Little Children is a great adult movie. Once again the great actress Kate Winslet proves herself to be one of our generations greats. She plays a bored housewife who's husband is somewhat a sexual deviant. Along comes bored dad played by Patrick Wilson. The two begin an engaging affair that is passionate. Also a sexual predator played by Jackie Earle Haley is living with the consequnces of being hated as a man and a predator. The movie has a strong sexual tension to it and is also quiet disturbing, but besides that this movie is worth watching.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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