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  Little Darlings Lost Something?
Year: 1980
Director: Ronald F. Maxwell
Stars: Tatum O'Neal, Kristy McNichol, Armand Assante, Matt Dillon, Margaret Blye, Nicolas Coster, Krista Errickson, Alexa Kenin, Abby Bluestone, Cynthia Nixon, Simone Schachter, Jenn Thompson, Troas Hayes, Mary Betten, Marianne Gordon
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Angel (Kristy McNichol) is a tomboyish teenager who prefers to kick boys in the balls rather than put up with their inane and suggestive comments. Today she is being taken to the departure point for summer camp by her mother, who criticises her for smoking even as she puffs away herself, and once Angel gets to the bus she feels she'd be better off elsewhere as she doesn't fit in with the mixture of pretention and precociousness that passes for conversation among her fellow campers. Just as the bus draws away, a Rolls Royce pulls up and stops it: out jumps Ferris (Tatum O'Neal), a spoiled rich girl and late arrival for the trip who will become Angel's biggest rival when they are set up as part of a lucrative bet...

Before Ferris Bueller came along, the most famous Ferris in teen movies was O'Neal's lead character in the ironically titled Little Darlings. It was part of that most dreaded of genres, the summer camp movie, but there was a harder edge to this one, perhaps surprisingly for the time as Kimi Peck and Dalene Young's script concentrated on the girls instead of, more tradtionally, the boys. Many older viewers tut-tutted their way through the storyline, but if you were the same age as the characters when this came out, maybe you felt you could relate, and the production is source of much nostalgic reminiscing today.

The main bone of contention was that bet, for when it's set up that Angel and Ferris don't like each other, their fellow campers place wagers on which of them will lose their virginity first. They both accept, not wishing to chicken out, and so Angel sets her sights on a willing but not too bright member of the boys' camp, Randy (Matt Dillon) and Ferris settles upon one of the camp tutors, Gary (Armand Assante). Neither of them are aware that they're part of this but even if Gary did know, he's too responsible to get involved with a girl ten years younger, a point lost on Ferris. It's this plotline that proved the most contentious, yet Little Darlings actually has a pretty conservative message once all the hijinks are out of the way.

There are a few good laughs as the cast are well chosen, and the girls get up to such business as stealing a condom machine from a public toilet, underlining the notion that it's the females who have to take responsibility when involved with unthinking males. Ferris, who is struggling to accept her parents are splitting up, does manage to get Gary alone, but he's wise to her antics and sends her packing - not that this stops her making up stories about him. Angel on the other hand does something she regrets with the appropriately named Randy, and the jokes all but dry up as the tone turns serious. Unlike a teen movie starring boys, sex is a grim business for these girls and the theme is that you shouldn't want to grow up too fast, in fact, sexual intercourse according to this film is one of the worst things that can happen to a teenage girl. It all ends on a note of reconciliation and solidarity anyway - between the girls, of course. Music by Charles Fox.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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