Little Man Tate
Little Man Tate is a 1991 American family drama film directed by Jodie Foster in a screenplay written by Scott Frank. The film stars Foster and Adam Hann-Byrd in lead roles alongwith Dianne Wiest, Harry Connick, Jr., David Hyde Pierce, Debi Mazar and P.J. Ochlan featured in supporting roles. It tells the story of a seven-year-old child prodigy, Fred Tate (Adam Hann-Byrd), who struggles to self-actualize in social and psychological settings that largely fails to accommodate his intelligence. Foster plays Fred's mother Dede Tate, who wishes to give her son a "normal" childhood, while feeding his intellectual curiosity.
|Little Man Tate|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jodie Foster|
|Produced by||Peggy Rajski
|Written by||Scott Frank|
|Music by||Mark Isham|
|Edited by||Lynzee Klingman|
|Distributed by||Orion Pictures Corporation|
|October 18, 1991|
|Box office||$25 million (USA)|
Little Man Tate was released theatrically on October 18, 1991 by Orion Pictures. The film marked Foster's directorial debut. Upon release, the film received positive reviews and was a moderate commercial success grossing $25 million on a budget of $10 million.
Dede Tate (Jodie Foster) is a single mother, a working-class woman of average intelligence raising her seven-year-old son, Fred (Adam Hann-Byrd). Fred shows every indication of being a genius. Fred's reading and mathematics abilities are remarkable, and he plays the piano "at competition level," but his intellect has isolated him from his public school classmates.
Fred's abilities come to the attention of Jane Grierson (Dianne Wiest), a former music prodigy and now a psychologist running a school for gifted children. She asks permission from Dede to admit Fred to the school, in order to develop his intellectual gifts in ways that a public school cannot. Dede is reluctant, preferring that Fred have a more normal upbringing, but when no friends come to Fred's seventh birthday party, Dede consents.
Fred joins other brilliant young people, and participates in Jane’s Odyssey of the Mind event for part of the spring. There he meets one of his heroes, who is one of Jane's prized pupils, the brilliant but slightly bizarre "Mathemagician" Damon Wells (P.J. Ochlan), a whiz at math who wears a black cape wherever he goes. After Fred unintentionally upstages Damon at one of the competitions at Odyssey of the Mind, Damon is upset with Fred. Damon however warms up to Fred when out horseback riding on Jane’s ranch, and is Fred's first insight to a world outside academia. Damon tells him, "it is not how much IQ a man has; it is how he uses it". Jane attempts to become more nurturing, but is unable to relate to Fred as anything other than a case study.
Fred is later enrolled at a university, where he studies quantum physics while his mother, aunt and cousins travel to Florida for the summer. An adult student named Eddie (Harry Connick Jr.) accidentally hits Fred with a globe when goofing around. To make it up to Fred, Eddie takes him out for a ride on his moped and shows him things such as how to shoot pool; it is good for Fred to spend time with someone who is not a genius. However, when Fred walks into Eddie's room while Eddie is in bed with a coed, Fred runs out and Eddie chases after him. Eddie explains that he cannot be a babysitter for Fred; although he enjoys Fred's company, Fred needs to find friends closer to his own age. The return to isolation takes its toll on Fred, as he suffers from nightmares in which he is treated as a freak and an outsider.
Jane is asked to bring Fred onto a TV panel discussion show on the topic of gifted children. Fred attends but breaks down. He claims his mother is dead, and recites a childish poem (a word for word repetition of a poem by one of his former grade school classmates) before taking off his microphone and walking out of the studio. Dede witnesses some of this as it is being broadcast, and flies back to New York. Jane is unable to find Fred, but Dede discovers him back at their apartment, and embraces him.
One year later, Fred has adjusted to the pressures of being a child genius, particularly after an even younger student is admitted to Jane's school. Dede hosts a well-attended birthday party for Fred, reconciling Fred's emotional development with his intellect.
- Jodie Foster - Dede Tate
- Dianne Wiest - Jane Grierson
- Adam Hann-Byrd - Fred Tate
- Harry Connick Jr. - Eddie
- David Hyde Pierce - Garth Emmerick
- Debi Mazar - Gina
- P.J. Ochlan - Damon Wells
- Alex Lee - Fred Tate at two
- Michael Shulman - Matt Montini
- Nathan Lee - Matt's Teammate
- Celia Weston - Miss Nimvel
- Danitra Vance - Clinic Doctor
- Richard Fredette - Bartender
- George Plimpton - Winston F. Buckner
- Elizabeth H. Frietsch - Live Wire Girl
- Jennifer Trier - Grierson Institute Teacher
- Lawrence Gallegos - Fraternity Guy
- D. Michael Pierce - College Student
- Evan Prizant - Child Star (The Adding Machine)
- Geoffrey C. York - Infant Fred Tate
- Carolyn Lawrence - Sorority Girl
Foster, who was herself a child prodigy was immediately impressed by the narrative and wanted to direct it. Although the studio was skeptical about her directing the film, they ultimately agreed after she negotiated to act in the film as well but for free. The film includes certain autobiographical elements from Foster's life.
Most of the film was shot in Over-the-Rhine and downtown Cincinnati. Other locations include the Cincinnati suburb of Clifton; the Village of Indian Hill; the University of Cincinnati's McMicken Hall; Miami University's Upham Hall and the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity House, in Oxford, Ohio; and both the Wexner Center and the Ohio Theater in Columbus, Ohio.
Little Man Tate received positive reviews from critics, as it holds a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 26 reviews.
The film grossed about $25 million.