Saturday, March 14, 2009

3/11/09: A Little Game (1971)

If there's one thing I really love, it's movies about evil kids. From Village of the Damned to The Children's Hour and The Bad Seed, precocious moppets with ’tude invariably command my full attention. I first learned about A Little Game a few years ago, while reading a book about movies made for TV. (I've seen a great many of them, but this one managed to stay off my radar until now.) It stars Ed Nelson as a man who starts to suspect that his troubled stepson Robert (Mark Gruner) might just be a cold-blooded killer. At the very least, Robert is a dangerous sociopath and a ticking time bomb. Gruner plays him with nasty resentfulness, despising Nelson for marrying his dear widowed mother (Diane Baker) and replacing his hero dad. Of course, it's only a matter of time before Nelson can convince his disbelieving wife that her precious son is actually the spawn of Satan. It's a typical 1970s TV-movie, which coming from me is a compliment. It becomes a little preposterous and overly simplistic, but which of them isn't? Christopher Shea, onetime voice of Linus from the animated Peanuts specials, has the film's most interesting role as Robert's confused but goodhearted buddy, who must find a way to rationalize the web of deceit he has unwittingly played a role in. Rating: 3/5.

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