Reviewed by: Ken James
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Michael Angarano, David Gallagher, Vivica A. Fox | Directed by: Blair Treu | Produced by: Blair Treu, Don Shain, Jessica Barondes | Written by: Jessica Barondes | Distributor: IDP/Samuel Goldwyn
As a child, little secrets can seem like all consuming mountains. Pre-teen Emily (Evan Rachel Wood) is the neighborhood “secret keeper.” Kids line up daily to share with her their latest secrets: the stray cat taken in against house rules; top secret plans to dig to China; broken items that need to be repaired and/or replaced before Mom and Dad find out… and the list never seems to end! Emily hears it all. For only a few cents, the kids love having a trusted friend they can share their deepest problems with.
But when a new family moves in next door (brothers David, played by David Gallagher, and Philip, played by Michael Angarano), her post of trust comes crashing in, causing her to do the unthinkable: share someone’s secret. What quickly ensues strains her closest friendships and even threatens her dreams of joining the local symphony (Emily is an amazing violinist).
“Little Secrets” is a cute movie with nothing objectionable. At first, some of the advice that Emily gives the younger neighborhood kids sounds wrong, and indeed it is. But as the film progresses she learns from her mistakes. In fact, the overall theme is that having secrets that your loved ones don’t know about can be dangerous and detrimental. How often does that get taught to our youth?
The quality of “Little Secrets” reminds me of a “Hallmark Hall of Fame” film. It’s that good. In fact, its showing at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis proved its quality as it won the award of excellence. Director Blair Treu (who helped in production and management for “ABC Disney Sunday Movie”) says about this film: “I’m a parent like any other. I’m concerned about what my kids watch. It’s no secret there’s a lot of toxic stuff out there. I guess I feel that if I’m in a position to do something positive, something that’s uplifting for families, then I should portray stories and people in a positive, redemptive light.”
The quality of acting isn’t really that surprising. The cast brings a lot of experience to this family feature. Evan Rachel Wood (Emily) is remembered from her role of Jessie on ABC’s “Once and Again.” Her upcoming film project, entitled “Simone,” has her working with heavyweights Al Pacino and Catherine Keener. Michael Angarano (Philip) has had roles in TV sitcom and films like “Almost Famous” and “Music of the Heart” (among others). And perhaps most recognizable is David Gallagher (David) of “Seventh Heaven” and films “Richie Rich”, “Angels in the Endzone”, and more. Vivica A. Fox (who plays Pauline, Emily’s music mentor) played opposite Will Smith in “Independence Day” and numerous other blockbusters.
Catch “Little Secrets” where you can. It’s a perfect pick for your family fun night (most appropriate for ages 8 and older). Or, if your preteen wants to see this with some girlfriends, this is one you can wholeheartedly agree on.