Wednesday, December 27, 2006


LITTLE MANHATTAN is a movie that sounds so sweet it'll trigger your diabetes. A cute little ten-year old kid lives in the sort of movie-Manhattan made famous by Woody Allen. Indeed, the movie trades heavily on Woody Allen voice-over's, self-conscience cynicism and New York romanticism. His cramped apartment is populated by his divorcing parents, who by that film-friendly "quirk of the New York legal code" have to live together until the financial settlement is completed.

The story is simple - the aforementioned cute kid takes a karate class one summer and meets Rosemary - another cute kid, and they begin a hesitant two week friendship that will turn into Gabe's first real love. The movie is filmed in lush tones and full of little kids saying unbelievably mature and articulate things. John Hutcherson's performance as Gabe has some of the credibility of, say, Fred Savage in THE WONDER YEARS, but Charlie Ray's performance as Rosemary is painfully self-aware. This is hardly her fault given the dialogue. In the adult roles, Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman in The West Wing) is fine as Gabe's father and Cynthia Nixon retains her Miranda-esque personality as the mother.

Despite all this, LITTLE MANHATTAN is a pleasant enough way to spend 90 minutes. It's a neat romantic-comedy and by far less saccharine that anyone had the right to expect although still probably half-a-teaspoon too sweet for me. One particularly corny line concerning how to clear the air with an estraged wife had me cringing. All in all, more TV comedy than Woody Allen. The only other thing I would say is that while this is a movie in which the protagonists are kids, it is a film for nostalgic adults.

LITTLE MANHATTAN went on limited release in the US in 2005 and in Mexico, the Philippines, Brazil, Australia, Poland, Argentina, the UK, Italy and France in 2006.

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