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Little Man Tate (1991)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  1 November 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 10,863 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 24 critic

Dede is a sole parent trying to bring up her son Fred. When it is discovered that Fred is a genius, she is determined to ensure that Fred has all the opportunities that he needs, and that ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Garth Emmerick (as David Pierce)
Alex Lee ...
Matt Montini
Nathan Lee ...
Matt's Teammate
Miss Nimvel
Danitra Vance ...
Clinic Doctor
Richard Fredette ...
Winston F. Buckner
Grierson Institute Teacher


Dede is a sole parent trying to bring up her son Fred. When it is discovered that Fred is a genius, she is determined to ensure that Fred has all the opportunities that he needs, and that he is not taken advantage of by people who forget that his extremely powerful intellect is harboured in the body and emotions of a child. Written by Murray Chapman <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's not what he knows. It's what he understands.




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

1 November 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le petit homme  »

Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)


$25,010,896 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Most school scenes were filmed at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. The Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house served as the home/office of Jane Grierson (Dianne Wiest). See more »


Fred's backpack strap is down on his elbow when he's talking with Eddie in a longer shot (76:42-76:55), but is up on his shoulder in the immediately preceding and following close-ups of Fred. See more »


[first lines]
Fred Tate: It's funny, cause I *think* I can even remember being born. For the first two weeks of my life I didn't even have a name. Dede couldn't make up her mind. She finally decided on Fred. She said that she had never heard of a little kid named Fred before.
See more »


Referenced in 2 Broke Girls: And the Cronuts (2013) See more »


Mozart's String Quartet No 21, D Major, KV575
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (as Mozart)
Performed by Alban Berg Quartett
Courtesy of Teldec Classics International GmbH
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent Acting. Simplistic Conclusion.
9 April 2002 | by (India) – See all my reviews

I was mainly interested in this film because of the subject - the predicament of a child genius. Half way through it I was captivated, not so much by the subject(in part because of the way it was handled), but by the child genius himself. Adam Hann-Byrd is thoroughly captivating. Rendering a sympathetic performance, he's almost bewitching! He even looks a lot like Jodie Foster. And it's to her credit as a director for finding such a perfect little actor to play such a complex role. Jodie Foster herself gives a moving performance as a struggling mother who is suddenly made to feel incapacitated, both financially and mentally, as the mother of a child prodigy. Diane Wiest's choice of characters has always been interesting. From 'Edward Scissorhands' to 'Birdcage', 'Practical magic' and still other films, she's usually played characters who are slightly quirky, odd or non-conformist, with a touch of humor in them. Over here she plays to perfection the role of the demanding, independent mentor of Fred Tate with a warped emotional intelligence.

One grouse far Diane Wiest's character is concerned. I think her role is too much of an extreme as compared to Jodie Foster's. At the end of the film, Wiest's character, Jane Grierson ends up looking sheepish, repenting and even stupid to an extent. The end is almost sort of an ode to perfect motherhood, decrying the failure of the poor mentor spending tons of money by taking prodigies under her wing. It seems to say, child prodigies don't need all that specialized atmosphere, don't need special benefits, when in fact they do. I'm not saying that they ought to be living in state-of-the-art cages where they will only interact with other prodigies. But they do need a lot of other benefits that ordinary schools which underestimate the intelligence of even "normal" people just cannot provide. Child geniuses need to be dealt with very sensitively, keeping in mind their advanced faculties all the time and an atmosphere has to be created for them to properly nurture their special gifts. Somehow this film, by showing Jane Grierson as obviously insensitive, indirectly puts forth a bad case for special training for child geniuses. The real test of motherhood and Dede's feelings of jealousy towards Jane would have been explored if Jane, along with her maternal feelings for Fred would have also been shown to be sensitive or considerate. Instead we are made to laugh at Jane because she offers Fred some brown fruit/veggie juice and he asks for Coke... So that's it. This film is good, not for the content or it's resolution, but for the acting. Kudos to Adam Hann-Byrd!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Terrible Yoda101382
Adam Hann-Byrd was ugly in this film kedem524
What is the point? thirsch-2
Fred's nickname for his mother TheLastUnicorn
The music he plays in the piano on the interview whith Jane Grierson??? vovosafalda
Song eddy is playing Gunfighter2009
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