Preteen girl looking at a cell phone with her parents

Personalized picks at your fingertips

Get the mobile app on iOS and Android

Parents' Guide to

The Little Things

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Flawed but well-made, violent, bloody serial killer tale.

Movie R 2021 127 minutes
The Little Things Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 10 parent reviews

age 14+
age 14+

Okay but story is slow

The story is decent and acting is amazing but the storyline is very slow and some times. There is some nudity but not a ton. They did not overdue violence or swearing.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (10 ):
Kids say (4 ):

This thriller suffers from somewhat jarring plot turns, some overcooked performances, and other flaws, but the sturdy, classical direction and Washington's anguished performance make it worth seeing. The Little Things is something of a departure for writer-director John Lee Hancock. In his clean, classical style, he usually makes bright, positive movies about ambition and achievement (Saving Mr. Banks, The Founder, etc.), but this one, which was originally written at the beginning of his career in the early 1990s, is more about obsession. It withholds information, rather than sharing. Perhaps for that reason -- or perhaps because it doesn't adequately establish its rules -- the movie's big reveal doesn't feel entirely smooth, and it's slightly unsatisfying.

Another drawback of a movie written in the early 1990s is that the female characters are underdeveloped. Plus, Oscar winners Malek and Leto are both guilty of slightly overcooked performances. Leto's eyes appear sunken in, to emphasize his creepiness, while Malek tends to mumble his dialogue, Marlon Brando-style (probably because he's been given mostly exposition). But Washington is excellent, carrying a heavy burden and using every inch of his frame to show the weight and pain of it. And Hancock's direction is as skillful as ever. While his movies are usually full of bright daylight, The Little Things makes fine, mysterious use of darkness (and peering through it with flashlights or ultraviolet light), for an effectively shadowy mood.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: January 29, 2021
  • On DVD or streaming: May 4, 2021
  • Cast: Denzel Washington , Rami Malek , Jared Leto
  • Director: John Lee Hancock
  • Inclusion Information: Black actors, Middle Eastern/North African actors
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Run time: 127 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: violent/disturbing images, language and full nudity
  • Last updated: April 20, 2023

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate