A stay-at-home mom and a stay-at-home dad start an affair with one another when they realized they have become trapped by their suburban lives.
The little children in the title are really the adults who don’t want to grow up and face reality, even though they are well into adulthood. Sarah is a stay-at-home mom who really doesn’t even want a child and is unsure of why she is staying at home to take care of her instead of getting a nanny since her husband can afford it. Brad is a stay-at-home dad who is supposed to be studying for the bar exam that he has already failed two times while his wife supports him, but they are barely making ends meet. Neither one of them is really happy with their lives, but don’t have any momentum to make any changes. They are just going through the motions until they meet each other.
Suddenly, there is some passion in their lives and they start to wake up to their situations they have ended up in. They become a little deluded in the process though and get caught up in a different kind of fantasy world of the affair, until they are shaken awake to reality at the very end of the movie. They use their children as a reason to get together, which doesn’t make them the most likable people in the world, but you still care about what happens to them.
I think most of the credit goes to the writer of the book, Tom Perrotta, who also wrote the screenplay with director Todd Field. The movie stays very close to the book, with only some minor side stories trimmed a bit. I was actually surprised at how much was kept in the movie. Some ways I think they cheated with the movie was voice over narration. In some parts, I felt it was needed since there wasn’t another way to get the point across, but in other areas, I thought it should have been shown instead of the audience being told what someone was feeling or thinking.
Another area that I thought was not made as clear in the movie as in the book was Sarah not realizing how much she loved her daughter until the very end of the movie. It is clear that she loves her in the end of the movie, but before then, I don’t think it is as clear that she was pretty indifferent towards her daughter. There is one brief scene where her daughter is trying to give her a present she made for her, but Sarah is completely ignoring her while caught up daydreaming about Brad. Maybe it drove the point home for some, but I thought it was a tad too subtle.
While this all might sound pretty heady, this movie is pretty funny and twisted too. I had forgotten how funny the book was in parts, and that comes across in the movie too. I had worried about the movie when I found out it was directed by the same guy who made the depressing snoozefest, In the Bedroom, but I think he did a decent job with this one.