Little Man Tate

"OK"

Little Man Tate Review


It's been ages since I've seen this film. I watched it on video when it first came out, circa 1992 and barely remembered all of it. I remembered the little kid getting hit on the head with a globe by Harry Connick Jr. I completely forgot about Dianne Weist, and I had a vague memory of Jodie Foster having something or other to do with it. But, it was Sunday and I was bored and it just so happened that The Movie Channel had it on so I decided to sit back and watch it. I had nothing better to do.

Although I am already going senile at a very young age and cannot trust much of any memories, I do remember thinking that Little Man Tate was a good film. I am glad to see that times have not changed that much.

Little Man Tate follows child prodigy Fred Tate (Adam Hann-Byrd, whose only other good role came in the form of Ang Lee's The Ice Storm) and struggling mother Dede Tate (Jodie Foster). Fred Tate seeks only to have friends. Dede Tate is driven by what her son wants. The third force in this movie is Jane Grierson (Dianne Weist), a former child prodigy who seeks to enter into a maternal position as far as Fred is concerned and also to make sure his intellectual needs are fulfilled.

In short, the plot is something we have seen time and time again.

The movie is much more psychologically complex however, when you factor in that Fred has ulcers due to worldly concerns and when you take into light the director of the movie, Jodie Foster.

We all know her as the recluse of cinema. We also may know her as the runner up for Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy (ironically, the person who has been often referred to as "the next Jodie Foster", Natalie Portman, grabbed the female lead in the new Star Wars trilogy). What most people are not familiar with is that she was in, to a degree, the position that Fred Tate finds himself in during the film.

Jodie Foster was able to read by 3, speak fluent French by 14, graduated Valedictorian a year early from a Private Academy known as Lycee Francais. She was managed by her mother, a person who reportedly pushed her to be in her famous/infamous role as a 13-year-old prostitute in Taxi Driver while she just wanted to hang out with friends. Do I sense a very similar structure when Fred utters the voice-over "All I wanted was for someone to eat lunch with me?"

That point aside, the film in and of itself is a basic formula character drama... back when they still made them. You have conflicts between characters you care about a tiny bit, tears jerked from the majority of the audience; tiny bits of comic support placed all over like chocolate jimmies on Ice Cream. You have errors here and there, nice cinematography, fine performances and mediocre directing (yes, Jodie Foster does a better job than most mainstream drama directors do). You have some characters that you wonder about the significance of, Freudian psychology, and events that don't make any sense as far as the plot is concerned.

Movies like this are significantly easier to grade with a rubric, such as stars or letters or ranking out of ten, but I do not use any of these so I will simply have to say that it is a basically mediocre film. It is more a film for people who like Jodie Foster than for people who want to see actually good films. It isn't worth spending money over but it isn't worth skipping, so, using a very trite phrase: you decide.



Little Man Tate

Facts and Figures

Run time: 99 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st November 1991

Distributed by: Orion Home Video

Production compaines: Orion Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 19 Rotten: 6

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Dede Tate, as Jane Grierson, as Fred Tate, as Eddie, as Garth Emmerick, as Gina, P.J. Ochlan as Damon Wells, Michael Shulman as Matt Montini, as Miss Nimvel, as Winston F. Buckner, as Quizmaster, as Physics Professor

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