What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie about tween romance shows a little kissing and some wrestling around on the floor. The kids disobey their parents, leave their neighborhood, and take the subway alone. There's some mild peril when they encounter bullies. Gabe deals with his parents getting a divorce. He also speeds across the street on his scooter without looking.
What's the story?
Gabe (Josh Hutcherson) is 11 3/4 and living in a weird world. His mother and father (Cynthia Nixon and Bradley Whitford) are separated and getting a divorce but still live together. When Gabe starts karate, Rosemary (Charlie Ray) captures his imagination. He's known her since kindergarten, but now, as his sparring partner, Rosemary's strength and beauty enchant Gabe, and he grapples with how he's suddenly changing.
Is it any good?
Teens are often shown images of romance that are either unrealistically sweet or unbelievably raunchy; between the two sits the charming LITTLE MANHATTAN. It's a revelation of a small film that's essentially When Harry Met Sally for the tween set. In fact, it's a little creepy how alike the movies are. In one scene where Rosemary and Gabe are at a birthday party that Rosemary's toddler sister is attending, Rosemary somewhat snootily says, "See, she's using her hands and talking, and he's drooling over a cupcake." The girl toddler, it turns out, is three months younger than the boy.
Anyone who's ever had a crush is likely to relate to Gabe. He feels the need to ride his scooter past her house constantly. His hands sweat. His heart pounds. "You're weak and pathetic and you're going to be alone for your entire life," he berates himself when he finally sees Rosemary on one of his stakeouts. Finally, viewers eventually get to the scene where Gabe races to find Rosemary and profess his love for her. But the refreshing difference here is that the true love story is saved for the adults -- mercifully, Little Manhattan doesn't force its child stars to grow up too fast.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the ideas of love that movies, including this one, give viewers. Is love really the way the movie describes? Do you have to suffer to be in love? Do you believe Gabe when he says that love is about "grand gestures" instead of small things? Is that true in Gabe's parents' relationship? What other messages about love does this film give you? Do you think they're accurate?