DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Little Man Tate
Little Man Tate
MGM // PG // September 4, 2001
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted October 3, 2001 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
Fred Tate (Adam Hann-Byrd) is a genius. Music, mathematics, art: he's profoundly gifted in all of these areas, and possesses a wide-ranging curiosity about the world around him. He's also only seven years old, and his greatest desire is to have someone to sit next to at lunchtime. Fred's single mother Dede (Jodie Foster) struggles unsuccessfully to help her son balance the two extremes of his intellect and his emotional needs, until he comes to the attention of Jane Grierson (Dianne Wiest), a famed psychologist who runs a school for gifted children. Jane believes that she knows exactly what Fred needs, but her ideas open up both new possibilities and new problems.

Little Man Tate is an impressive directorial debut for Jodie Foster, presenting a complex situation intelligently and thoughtfully. There's no clear-cut "good" or "bad" in this movie, though it could in clumsier hands have been reduced to "bad mom vs. all-knowing teacher" or vice versa. All of the characters are fully-realized human beings, with the best of intentions but also with their own weaknesses. The film recognizes that in our society, there's no easy way to handle a child like Fred without either denying his potential or forcing him to grow up too soon. Little Man Tate accurately depicts the difficulties that are part and parcel of the "gift" of exceptional intelligence, including the difficulty in finding friends who both understand and accept him, and the pressure to choose between the intellectual and the emotional sides of his life. Foster avoids going for any simplistic theme or message in Little Man Tate, choosing instead (and wisely, I think) to focus on the complexities of the situation, and the fact that gifted children are still children, not adults in child-sized bodies.

Adam Hann-Byrd is phenomenal in his first film performance. He's entirely believable and sympathetic as Fred, a likeable kid in the unenviable situation of trying to live up to the conflicting expectations of the two most important adults in his life, while unable to fully articulate his own feelings and needs. But Fred isn't the only character who is struggling to make sense of his life; Dede and Jane both have to come to terms with their own issues before they can truly help Fred with his. Foster and Wiest turn in excellent performances in these roles, bringing subtlety and complexity to the parts.

The film does fall a bit short in the ending. It's not that the ending is bad, because it's not; it's that it doesn't quite do justice to the complexity that has been built up over the course of the movie.

Video

It could be better, it could be worse. MGM's transfer of Little Man Tate is anamorphic, with the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and there's nothing really wrong with it. However, the image is somewhat grainy, so I'd describe the overall image quality as just average.

Audio

For a predominantly dialogue-based movie, Little Man Tate does fairly well in the audio department. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is clear, though there's not much use of surround. Music, an important element in several scenes, is integrated nicely into the overall soundtrack.

Extras

Jodie Foster provides an audio commentary for the film, and it comes with a trailer. That's it for special features.

Final thoughts

I found Little Man Tate to be an absorbing and thought-provoking film. It's not perfect, but Foster does a very good job indeed of representing situations and characters in a realistically complicated way. It's definitely worth picking up.
Popular Reviews
1. Eastbound & Down: Season 4
2. Noah
3. Bob's Burgers: Season 3
4. Mystery Science Theater 3000: XXX
5. Rio 2
6. Marty
7. Brannigan
8. Kid Cannabis
9. Ong Bak Trilogy
10. Born Yesterday


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use