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Child's Play

Oppressive, if familiar, family values reign in the Middle America of Little Secrets (Samuel Goldwyn, opens August 23). Blair Treu's adolescent drama stars teen dream Evan Rachel Wood as Emily, a 14-year-old who turns down summer with friends at camp to practice the violin for her audition with the local symphony. In the meantime she opens a stand where, for 50 cents, she offers to keep the secrets of the little kids in her suburban neighborhood, and puts up with her mother, who is fortysomething and pregnant. Many more things happen in this Disneyesque confection; most are as predictable as the romance that blossoms with the cute boy who moves in next door. Treu scores his finest points off the little kids' unfailing cuteness, but the film's broad performances and heavy-handed moralizing strike a note of condescension sure to be heard by the alienated teenager within us all.

 
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