Think vintage Woody Allen (but even shorter) and you'll have some idea of the wit and whimsy that characterises Little Manhattan. Josh Hutcherson (Zathura) is a delight as the angst-ridden mini-urbanite who struggles to get his head around this thing called love. Of course, being aimed at a younger crowd the oneliners aren't quite as scathing, but director Mark Levin never patronises his audience. In fact this romantic comedy is actually less childish than most of those aimed at grownups.
Gabe is enrolled in the same karate class as Rosemary (Charlie Ray) and is immediately struck by Cupid's arrow - as well as her mean martial arts moves. They spend a heady summer together, hanging out at Central Park and cruising the city streets on Gabe's scooter. But it's also a turbulent time for our budding Romeo as he tries to negotiate the obscure rituals of courtship with minimum embarrassment.
At times Levin loses a sense of urgency about Gabe's mission and gives Ray little to do except smile. Even so, his third film collaboration with wife and screenwriter Jennifer Flackett (Wimbledon, Madeline) has plenty of sparkle and sophistication to compensate.
"ENCAPSULATES BOTH THE NAIVETY AND UNVARNISHED WISDOM OF CHILDREN"
We're given access to Gabe's thoughts via a brilliantly funny voiceover, which encapsulates both the naivety; and unvarnished wisdom of children. Hutcherson's delivery is spot-on, showing a keen instinct for self-effacing humour that would make even Woody Allen feel that bit more inadequate. Sweet but not syrupy and heart-warming without being manipulative, this kid flick stands tall among recent Hollywood love stories.