Fred Tate (Adam Hann-Byrd) could read when he was one year old. He was writing poetry at the age of four.
Even though he’s only seven now, he can paint murals using oil paints, play the piano at competition level, and solve mathematical equations that would make even the brainiest of boffins feel stupid. He takes telephones apart, not to fix them but to make them work more efficiently. As a birthday present for his mother, he writes an opera . . .
He has one problem though – he doesn’t really fit in anywhere. He’s an outcast at school, and though he understands quantum physics, he yearns to play kickball with the gang and would like to have someone to eat lunch with.
His uneducated but independent cocktail waitress mother, Dede (Jodie Foster) is always busy out working and doesn’t take a lot of notice of him, while his child psychologist Jane Grierson (Dianne Wiest) realises he’s a bit of a swot and tries to teach him everything she knows.
A former prodigy herself, Jane runs an institute for young geniuses. But the idea of Fred being separated from “normal” life frightens Dede. Fred finds the prospect of being with others like himself, thrilling.
After some negotiation with his fiercely protective mother, Fred goes on a field trip with Jane and a crew of outlandishly bright children.
Afterwards, Fred moves in with Jane for college summer school. Sooner or later, Fred is going to get caught between Jane and his mother.
First-time director Jodie Foster pulled off a terrific little/big movie with Little Man Tate, as impressive as it is endearing. It’s a terrifically self-assured debut.
Fred Tate at 2
David Hyde Pierce
Winston F. Buckner
Lauren Ashley Stacey
Coral Bay Owner
Harry Connick Jr.