I got sucker-punched by the tiny fists of Little Children

8 Feb
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Most people seemed to enjoy Little Children. I’ve read reviews and heard from friends that it’s an enjoyable off-kilter study of suburban life, a dark dramedy falling somewhere between American Beauty and The Good Girl. Critics mostly dug it; the Golden Globes shot a Best Pic nomination its way. By the time I got to the theater to see it, my excitement level was relatively high.

Well, I’ve seen it now. I must say I have a slightly different opinion from the masses.

Little Children
is the worst. Not worst ever, of course (that honor goes to Crash), but the worst movie I’ve seen in a long, long time. I’m still fuming at the overall awfulness, and I saw it over a week ago.

The storyline centers on a suburban neighborhood in Whereverthefuck, USA (doesn’t matter). Sarah (Kate Winslet, the lone bright spot in this whole abomination) is the protagonist, a brainy housewife itching with discontent. Young daughter, boring husband, no job, etc. She meets a handsome stay-at-home dad at the park, sparks fly, and all of a sudden a secret relationship blossoms.

You’d think that’d be plenty of story to tell right there, right? But no; there’s far more (uninteresting) substance to Little Children. Each respective spouse has some serious issues, friends fade in and out of the story with problems of their own, there’re job concerns, parenting headaches, a child molester on the loose…the movie is festering with sidebars. And because a story of this extent can’t possibly be told in two (excruciating) hours, shortcuts have to be taken. Numerous times throughout the film, these offshoot plots sidetrack the main story for numerous minutes at a time, only to never be broached again. Little Children miraculously combines the breadth of a Richard Russo book with the uneven execution of The Last Kiss. Stellar.

The resultant story details the sickening reality of adultery, uncaring spouses, suburban dementia, nosy neighbors (and did I mention the goddamned child molester?)…and not only tries to juggle the storylines in an effort to create some cohesive piece of art, but make the film enjoyable on the whole. Not possible.

Oh, and also: it’s not even remotely funny. Ever. Just an examination of one neighborhood’s myriad depressing people and issues drawn out at a snail’s pace. That’s about it.

I suppose this is a long way of saying I don’t recommend the film. It’s long, unfunny and incredibly depressing. And I’m not talking depressing in a Schindler’s List-like “it has to be sad in order to be real” kind of way. I can make my piece with flicks of that variety. The depressing aspect I’m talking about is the “I can’t believe I just sacrificed ten bucks and two hours to feel like this” feeling. Unless you head to the movies to be simultaneously bored, irritated and disgusted, take a pass on this one.
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One Response to “I got sucker-punched by the tiny fists of Little Children”

  1. TJ February 9, 2007 at 6:27 am #

    This movie is really divisive. I read, loved, and couldn’t put down the book. I’m curious to see what makes people so divergent on whether this movie is successful.

    Have you seen Your Friends and Neighbors? The first time I watched it, I had a similar reaction as your last paragraph, but the second time I watched it with the understanding that no character in the film was worth my sympathy and just admired the writing and acting and editing and the rest and liked it a lot more. I’m wondering if that’s a similar situation with LC: completely unredeemable characters but worth seeing as specimens.

    Either way, definitely read the book. And other Tom Perrotta novels, too (Election, Joe College).

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