Little Secrets - Movie Review
by Michael Elliott

Artistic Rating: 3.0 Stars
Comments: This is a secret worth telling. Simple and sweet. Will appeal to anyone who has ever read a Babysitter's Club book.
Directed By: Blair Treu
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Michael Angarano, David Gallagher, Vivica Fox
Written By: Jessica Barondes
Rated: PG for thematic elements
Running Time: 1 hr : 47 min
Scripture References: 1 John 1:3, Acts 4:32, Luke 8:17

Little Secrets seems to be intent on keeping itself a secret. This family-oriented film may be coming in under the media radar, opening in just a handful of theaters, but here's hoping that its warmth and sweet-natured heart will generate enough word-of-mouth praise that audiences will seek it out.

14-year-old Emily (Evan Rachel Wood, Simone) is known throughout the neighborhood as "the secret keeper." For fifty cents, Emily doles out advice, keeps secrets, and stashes evidence for the precocious children that populate her "Leave It To Beaver-like" community. Surprisingly, there's no lacking for business as each day a long line of kids (regular clients apparently) stretches from her "secrets booth."

When not manning her booth, Emily is practicing her violin in preparation for a prestigious youth orchestra audition. She is so devoted to her music that when a televised concert is broadcast on PBS, she'll dress in an evening gown, place her music stand in front of the TV, and play along with the orchestra. If her TV is not available, she'll just go door to door around the block looking for one that is.

When a new family moves in next door, Emily will learn that not all secrets are healthy and some can be downright detrimental. Brothers Philip (Michael Angarano, Almost Famous) and David (David Gallagher, 7th Heaven) both take an interest in Emily and learn just how important keeping a secret is to her. Perhaps it's because she got a few of her own... and hers aren't that little.

Director Blair Treu and screenwriter Jessica Barondes last teamed up to make the family film Wish Upon A Star. Here, they have deliberately crafted a movie which is a bit predictable, a bit heavy on the schmaltz, and a bit anachronistic in its depiction of suburban family life. Still, there's something about it that brings forth memories of simpler times. Besides, it has been a while since a film has targeted the oft-neglected "tweenie" age group as its primary audience. Young girls especially will connect with this story about friendship and secrets.

Evan Rachel Wood carries the film and, like the character she plays, demonstrates a confidence and maturity beyond her years. Michael Angarano does well as a 12-year-old smitten smart aleck. David Gallagher is also well cast as his older brother, a teen aged hunk with just a hint of PG "bad boy" behavior.

Not all is sweetness and light in the world of Little Secrets. It tackles, though on a superficial level, some pretty major topics of interest. Drunk driving, lying, taking responsibility for one's actions, and sibling rivalry are all covered in this school age morality tale.

The major lesson learned, however, deals with secrets kept and secrets told. The moral being delivered is this: if we really want to be close to someone else, having secrets isn't going to accomplish it. This is a lesson God teaches as well. God has invited us to fellowship (full sharing) with Him and with all whom He has called to the body of Christ.

"That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." 1 John 1:3 (KJV)

It is impossible to keep a secret from God because He's the searcher of hearts. Therefore, the real emphasis of this scripture is our ability to fully share with one another because of our shared spiritual relationship with Him.

Telling the truth can sometimes be difficult. But if we want a relationship to grow in strength and closeness, there is no substitute for truth delivered and received in love.

Having a secret will always put a limit on how much we share and how much we give. A true fellowship has no such limitation. When we find people who love God and honestly desire to live according to His ways, we find people with whom we may live honestly and openly, sharing our hearts and our lives without reservation.

-Michael Elliott-c/o Movie Parables

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