Little Man Tate (1991)

PG  |   |  Drama  |  1 November 1991 (USA)
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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:

Mentes que brillan  »

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?


Jodie Foster mentions that Adam Hann-Byrd was terrifically allergic to horses and had to take something like Benadryl in order to be around them during filming, but that made him sleepy. See more »


The clocks in Jane's house and in the billiard room when Fred is out late with Eddie. The microwave shows 6:24 (at around 45 mins), but the clock behind Garth shows 10:13 (at around 47 mins) just before a cut to the pool hall clock showing 6:26 (at around 56 mins). 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 The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (2004) See more »


What The World Needs Now Is Love
Lyrics by Hal David
Music by Burt Bacharach
See more »

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User Reviews

Through the Eyes of a Child...
31 December 2004 | by (Alabama, United States) – See all my reviews

I've long been a fan of Jodie Foster's acting, and upon my first viewing of "Little Man Tate", I can now say I'm a fan of her directorial talents as well.

The story is of Fred Tate, son of single mother Dede. It's found that, at the age of 2, Fred can already read the print on the bottom of a dinner plate. Dede, and the rest of the world, realize that Fred is a genius, but Dede is determined that Fred, while given ever opportunity to expand his gift, is not exploited by the well meaning, but pretentious head mistress of a school for gifted children, Jane Grierson, portrayed by the outstanding actress Dianne Wiest.

The story's told, mainly, through the eyes of Fred; however, we also see the viewpoints of Dede & Jane who each feel that she alone has Fred's best interests at heart. We are given tremendous insight into how Fred sees and relates to the world around him. He has the understanding that's beyond most adults but only the emotional experience of his 7 years of life.

Through Fred, we can see that the academic world of gifted children isn't just filled with the nice, polite, precocious, bespectacled children that we are often shown on news magazines or public television programs. We are allowed to see that some are as outright rude and pretentious as the adults who claim to be only nurturing their gifts.

In her feature-film directorial debut, Foster is able to capture the world as Fred sees it. She's able still allow us to see Fred as the youngster he is. Fred's intellect isn't the basis of the story, just one element in it. She lets the story do the work, and she let's the character's tell the tale. She allows the characters to be real people not just the stereotypes that so often are found in films dealing with this subject matter.

Jodie Foster's only directed two films since this one ("Home For The Holidays"-1995 & "Flora Plum"-2005), and I've seen "Home For The Holidays" which I also feel was very well done. It seems that Ms. Foster is being very careful in picking her projects, much like the late Stanley Kubrick did. I only hope her unique talents are recognized and she's given more green lights for future projects.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

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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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