There’s the prom king, the bully, the dweeb, the bookish one, and the popular blond who controls a clique of like-minded minions. And while they’re adults living comfortable suburban lives, they’re clearly the little children of the title. But this second film from "In the Bedroom" director Todd Field, based on the acclaimed novel by Tom Perrotta, actually feels more like an extension of high school _ a followup on the types from "The Breakfast Club," still judging and tormenting each other 20 years later. While it doesn’t break any new ground, it is a shrewd, darkly humorous look at supposed civility, at the ways in which we allow ourselves to settle, and a rare depiction of motherhood as a less-than-awesome experience. Kate Winslet is both subtle and vibrant, as always, as the unhappily married mother of a young girl who bucks the playground rules the other mommies follow; Patrick Wilson is blandly likable, which is appropriate, as the stay-at-home father and husband with whom she has an affair. The film could have done without the child predator subplot (even though it’s in the book), but Jackie Earle Haley is palpably creepy in the role.
Christy Lemire, (AP)