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Little Birds Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 30

    out of 100

    The New York Times A.O. Scott

    I don't think Mr. James intended to make a creepy, exploitative movie about teenage runaways - or, for that matter, a moralistic, cautionary tale of girls gone bad. But those are the default categories that Little Birds stumbles toward, perhaps because the filmmaker has not found a cogent way to channel his curiosity or his empathy.

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  • 40

    out of 100

    Village Voice Michael Atkinson

    The dialogue is as stock as the characters, and James's visual palette never surpasses the adequate.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Betsy Sharkey

    Breathtaking moments give way to boring ones; searing emotions vie with the exceedingly bland.

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  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    An alienated-teen movie that surfs along on the whims and casual cruelties of its central character runs a risk: It can wind up as random and undisciplined as she is. Instead, Little Birds is a touching and distinctive achievement.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 16 & under

Teen girls seek respite from bleak life in mature drama.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Little Birds, an affecting drama about two teenage girls seeking a respite from their bleak lives, is both moving and disturbing. They steal a truck and run away to Los Angeles, where they get involved with a violent skateboard gang; one is excited, while the other is apprehensive and wants to go home, creating a conflict that threatens their bond. There's non-stop swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and much more) and some realistic, graphic beatings that leave the victims bloody and unconscious, as well as a horrific sexual assault. Teens drink, smoke cigarettes, and take drugs; there are also a couple of scenes of one of the girls topless.

  • Families can talk about how teen gang members are portrayed in Little Birds -- as violent, homeless ruffians with no caretakers and little future. Does this seem realistic?
  • How does the movie depict drinking, smoking, and drug use? Are there believable consequences?
  • Talk about Lily's and Alison's friendship. Why does their bond start to fray? What keeps them together?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: Friendship is the key theme of the movie. Lily and Alison have been best friends all their lives, but their bond is tested when they run away together and Lily becomes involved with a gang member. They say hurtful things to each other and seem to be moving in different directions, but when one of them really needs help, the other is there for her.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: The teen girls at the center of Little Birds are growing up and seeking some kind of escape from their bleak existence, so they run away to L.A. and get involved with a violent skateboard gang. The gang members drink most afternoons, take and sell drugs, assault people with little provocation, and commit brutal crimes without demonstrating any kind of remorse.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Several brutal assaults, including a gang member beating a man's head with a skateboard, another man who's mugged at gunpoint, and a violent brawl that leaves several people bloody and unconscious. An underage teen girl is nearly raped by a violent adult; she's saved when he's shot by another teen girl. Other teens threaten each other, including pushing, shoving, using intimidating language, and spitting. The violence is very realistic, and people genuinely seen dazed and injured afterward.

  • sex false4

    Sex: A woman brings a guy home from a bar. A teen girl is shown topless while bathing and later takes off her top again while kissing a boy. They discuss going further but are interrupted. The girl pretends to be an underage prostitute to attract men who are then assaulted by her gang-member boyfriend.

  • language false5

    Language: Near-constant swearing from all of the teen characters and several of the adults, including "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "t-tties," "c--t," and lots of other expletives. Profanity punctuates the conversation in nearly every scene.

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: A man who's being mugged complains when he's asked to hand over his BlackBerry phone.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Teens frequently drink beer and get drunk while hanging out. Some of them smoke cigarettes. Adults get drunk in the midafternoon, and hang out in bars drinking and smoking. Some characters smoke pot and talk about being high. One character sometimes deals drugs.