A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Little Fugitive is an influential 1953 coming-of-age film where the main characters are two brothers, 7 and 12, who end up in some fairly grown-up situations. The movie revolves around a cruel practical joke in which the younger brother is made to believe that he has shot and killed his older brother with a real gun (it's actually a toy). The younger boy runs away and is on his own for most of the movie. In addition to the practical joke and the use of toy guns, we see kids fighting; couples on the beach kissing, and language includes phrases like "shut up, you dope."
What's the story?
Twelve-year-old Lennie (Richard Brewster) is looking forward to spending his birthday at Coney Island, but when his single mother is called away on an emergency, he must instead spend the day looking after his 7-year-old brother Joey (Richie Andrusco). Angry and upset, Lennie and his pals cook up a plan: They will make Joey believe that he has shot and killed Lennie with a real gun. The plan works, but the distraught Joey runs away to Coney Island by himself, eventually finding solace in the pony rides. When Lennie realizes the error of his ways, he begins a frantic search for his little brother, but can Lennie find him and get back home to Brooklyn before mom returns?
Is it any good?
This is one of the finest and most vivid coming-of-age movies ever made. Co-directed by photographer/cinematographer Morris Engel, his photographer wife Ruth Orkin, and writer Ray Ashley, LITTLE FUGITIVE is nothing less than a landmark in the history of American independent cinema. It takes its time, building toward a memorable conclusion. It captures a remarkably intense summer carnival atmosphere, with crowds, grit, litter, heat, and noise as well as the wonders that are there for young eyes to discover.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the cruel, violent practical joke that Lennie and his friends play on Joey. What are the consequences of this joke? What would cause kids to do such a thing?
Can you imagine this movie being made today? What are some differences between what kids did or played with in the 1950s as compared to today?
Lennie gets the short end of the stick here: it's his birthday, but he doesn't get much of a chance to be a kid. Does he have a right to be upset? What would be a better way he could express this?
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