out of Five
Running time: 90
Original, sharply written and superbly acted romcom, although it's difficult to see just who it's aimed at.
What's it all about?
Set in Manhattan, the film stars rising child star Josh Hutcherson (RV, Zathura) as Gabe, a normal 11 year-old kid who finds his life turned upside-down when he develops his first crush, on his karate-class sparring partner, Rosemary Telesco (Charlie Ray).
As if that wasn't bad enough, his parents (Bradley Whitford from The West Wing and Cynthia Nixon from Sex And The City) are going through a painful separation, whilst still living together.
As the title suggests, Little Manhattan sets itself up as a Woody Allen-style New York romcom, only with eleven year-olds. To that extent, it works brilliantly – the script is sharply observed and frequently very funny and the film captures the exquisite agony of falling in love for the first time.
The performances are superb: Hutcherson handles voiceover duties well and perfectly illustrates the fact that Gabe has no idea what's happening to him, while Ray is adorable as Rosemary and they have several wonderful scenes together. Director Levin also makes terrific use of the Manhattan setting, with Gabe zipping around on his scooter the entire time.
Although Gabe's voiceover is both witty and perceptive, there is, unfortunately, way too much of it and it comes perilously close to spoiling the film in places. There are also a couple of scenes that don't really work (Gabe's crying scene is overdone and doesn't
convince) but these are minor quibbles at best.
In short, Little Manhattan is charming, well acted and sharply written, with several laugh out loud moments. Its target audience isn't readily apparent (its biggest appeal will be to pre-teen girls, but it's not exactly a kids' film either) but it's well worth seeing, nonetheless.