Giant Little Ones
Starring Josh Wiggins, Maria Bello, Kyle MacLachlan, Darren Mann, Taylor Hickson, Peter Outerbridge, Niamh Wilson
Finally, we are starting to see the LGBTQ genre splintering away from the usual controversial gay relationship dramas and tragedies. Giant Little Ones by Keith Behrman explores gender issues regarding same-sex experimentation among teens and young adults. In life and on film, society reacts differently to sexual intimacy between two females than it does when the intimacy is between two males. Behrman’s script explores family dynamics, lifelong friendships and the obstacles teenagers face when dealing with this issue (bullying, ostracism, peer pressure, etc.). It’s not a perfect film, but the bravery from both lead actor Josh Wiggins (Walking Out), and the filmmakers, give Giant Little Ones far more to discuss than the recent Love Simon.
Best friends their entire lives, Franky (Wiggins) and Ballas (Mann) bike to school together, are on the swim team together, and their families feel like kin. Following Franky’s wild 17th birthday party, the two friends stay over as they undoubtedly have many times, but this time alcohol mixed with curiosity and teenage hormones deliver a blow to their brotherly bond. The next day both find it difficult to even talking about what happened. Ballas, the more conservative jock type, ashamed of their actions, tells his girlfriend it was all Franky’s doing and word quickly spreads around school. Their friendship ends almost immediately, and the two teens begin disrupting each other's lives to the point where parents and eventually the police get involved.
The most emotionally complicated and bold performance of Josh Wiggins evolving career.
Giant Little Ones tackles far more than the way two straight males deal with their same-sex experience. Franky is also dealing with his feelings toward a father (MacLachlan) who left his mother (Bello). At times this subplot is even more interesting, as Franky is forced to deal with his own prejudices. Behrman’s script beautifully illustrates how extreme circumstances can reveal who your real friends are. One scene, in particular, stands out in this film where Franky’s lesbian friend Mouse (Niamh Wilson), obsessed with the male anatomy, asks to see his equipment. Funny, well written and completely original, Giant Little Ones has several of these anecdotal exchanges that likely will create good discussions after the movie is over.
“Pay attention to what you are drawn to, not what to call it,” McLachlan’s character advises his son. I must commend Wiggins, who continues to rise through the ranks of child actors into a thoughtful and dynamic young performer tackling roles that are creating a body of work he can be proud of. It’s the most emotionally complicated and bold performance of his career. Giant Little Ones manages to be thought-provoking while never losing sight of its entertainment value. There is something here for everyone, but especially parents and teens. Behrman finds ways to explore controversial topics in a manner that is never uncomfortable.
One of the most creative coming-of-age stories this year, sailing into uncharted territories around gender, society, and sexuality.