Little Manhattan (2005)

What a wonderful movie! I discovered this via a forum where Melody was being discussed and other movies came up. It looked like it would be so good that I took a chance and bought it. It doesn’t hurt that Bradley Whitford features as the father of 10 almost 11 year old Gabe, as I am a big fan. Though I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen Whitford play anything other than Josh Lyman, just with different character names and scenarios. Perhaps a bit like William Shatner is always William Shatner, whatever the role.

If you like Melody or Moonrise Kingdom, you will like this. It has kind of a mixed happy ending, pretty much as you expect to get right from the start. If I’d had a Rosemary, I’d have not been 42 when I got married.

The kids were absolutely delightful and well cast. Josh Hutcherson went on to become big. Charlotte Ray Rosenberg, introduced in her first role shades of Tracy Hyde in Melody, was perfect, stunning, and has spent a lot of time doing other things before really continuing an acting career. They were 11 when filming Little Manhattan, and she was his first kiss courtesy of the movie kiss.

The dynamic is different from that of Melody, but wandering free around London and Manhattan aren’t so different. It’s summer, so no classmates for most of the film, unless you count karate class, which is the catalyst. Instead of the ballet class, he falls in love with her when he tags along while she goes dress shopping to be a flower girl at her aunt’s upcoming wedding. In some ways they seem older than the kids in Melody, by being modern. In others, they seem younger, which they are, in screen age. I haven’t tried to figure out when the movie filmed, but these things are typically the preceding year or so before the release year. They were both born in 1992, so turned 13 in the year it released. The fun fact about the first kiss said they were 11 when that happened. By comparison, Tracy and Mark were just 11 and almost 12 during the filming of Melody. The kids in Melody were verging on turning 12. The kids in this one were just 11 and verging on turning 11. Essentially a school year younger than the kids in Melody. Just out of 5th grade for the summer as opposed to being close to getting out of 6th grade for the summer.

There are a lot of differences between this and the other movies. It’s about first love, sort of a coming of age and the realization girls don’t have cooties, whatever those are. It’s also a look at the relationships or would-be relationships of others around them, and at how kids see things, how adults see things, and how adults might just be kids who got older without actually “knowing it all.”

I feel like I shouldn’t say too much because spoilers, and yet it’s been out for 14 years. Just because I never heard of it doesn’t mean it’s new enough for the need of spoiler warnings to apply.

The fantasy elements are funny and sometimes touching.

The film uses the same flash forward thing Moonrise Kingdom does to suck you in with the goldfish right up front. When it gets there in practice and there’s like 20% of the film left, it’s clear that was just a flash forward to a critical point.

It’s nice to see adults take the “love life” of kids that young seriously, and not in an alarmed sort of way. Granted, they neither tried to get married nor ran away together. Her parents effectively taking them on a cool date was awesome. Even more so when, on top of the hand holding opportunity, they actively provided the chance at the first kiss.

I’ve been to New York City – Manhattan – exactly once in my life, for an afternoon. I’ve never been a city person, and in a way I don’t relate to it at all. On the other hand, it’s America’s city, maybe the world’s city, and it was a cool place to visit. This almost makes me want to watch one of my favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail, again. It’s been… at least several years. I’m not even sure I ever got that on DVD. It may have been VHS.

Oh! One cool thing I wanted to mention is the song. They used a cover of Love Grows, which is a natural with a romance featuring a girl named Rosemary. Looks like it’s by someone I’ve never heard of named Freedy Johnston. No offense, and it’s actually pretty good, but the original is one of my all time favorite songs and I still prefer Love Grows by Edison Lighthouse. It almost made me wish I’d loved a girl named Rosemary so the song would fit. There was a Rosemary on elementary school. Nice girl and all, but not someone I’d ever picture as more than my buddy. No idea what ever happened to her. I’ve actually asked people who shared her surname if they were related over the years. There’s also a Rosemary I am acquainted with online, dating back to 2003 through blogging.

One more thing. Watching the trailer after seeing the movie… The trailer is the movie, basically. Extreme Reader’s Digest version, but it’s basically there. You won’t see them go all the way across NYC to look at an apartment his father could potentially move to, or come all the way back, 67 blocks, on a scooter, to find the cops had been engaged because his mother realized he was missing. But it’s the high points, near enough. Really you should watch it all if you can and if you like this sort of thing.

 

 

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