Needless to say, the title comes from a sarcastic line in the movie.
Little Sweetheart is a 1989 film very loosely adapted from a novel
, starring John Hurt, Karen Young, Ellie Raab (who hasn't done any acting work since besides for playing a blow-up doll since the 1990s) and Cassie Barasch, who, as far as IMDB knows, only ever was in this film (which is kinda odd for a child actress playing the main character).
John Hurt's character, Robert Burger, is a former bank employee who, after robbing his place of work, ran off with his mistress, Dorothea (Karen Young). They arrive in a small Texas beach town on the same day as a family who have a daughter, Elizabeth (Ellie Raab). Elizabeth quickly becomes friends, after being forcibly introduced by her father, with Thelma (Cassie Barasch), a local girl with a dead father, a photographer brother who is screwing a local house-cleaner and a mother who is as good at paying attention to her kids as Casey Anthony. Thelma is a fan of old B movies, rock n roll and violent news stories. While nowadays she would just become an internet reviewer, there was no internet in 1989. Thelma and Elizabeth end up meeting Robert and Dorothea, and while Dorothea is paranoid and distrusting, Robert quickly befriends the two girls. This is a huge mistake. The two girls end up guiding them to their rental house (this being pre-Pædo Hunt
, nobody sees a problem with young girls getting in a stranger's car). After Robert tells them that Dorothea is his wife, Thelma points out to Elizabeth that Dorothea is not his wife, as she lacks a wedding ring (he has one, though). That night, they try to spy on them, but get caught. The next day, at Thelma's ninth birthday party, which a fair portion of the extremely small town is at, Robert shows up and tries to not only trick Thelma into thinking he's secretly a secret agent, but bribes her with a camera, which she had said she wanted. This is one of the biggest mistakes in the history of John Hurt characters. From there, it just keeps on going downhill
The film is little known, though it aired on The BBC
at least once, and it's now on Netflix.
- Adult Fear: In droves. Elizabeth goes missing (due to attempted murder), her clothing is found on the beach wrapped in her clothing (while you're on vacation in Texas, no less). Both Elizabeth and Thelma are associating with strangers, who turn out to be criminals. Thelma is a unique adult fear: the fear that your child is going to turn out to be a monster (something people like the parents of the Aurora, CO shooter and the Columbine killers must live with every day). On top of that, you have the adult fear that only some adults have, kids learning about sex (some adults are a bit more open-minded, while some adults think school should only teach abstinence).
- Amoral Attorney: Mentioned by the cops after killing Robert.
- Artistic License - Biology: Elizabeth, of course. So, you've just taken a bullet to the arm, a bullet to the gut and then spent at least several minutes face-down in either the Pacific or the Gulf of Mexico. Your best friend thinks she's killed you, you're being moved by the ocean, you're not moving. Of course, a band-aid to the head is all you need!
- The Bad Guy Wins
- The Bechdel Test: Passes with flying colors.
- Big Brother Bully: Inverted. The big brother is easily lorded over by his blackmailing little sister.
- Blackmail: Thelma blackmails her brother as well as Robert. In fact, the entire plot is about blackmail.
- Blondes are Evil: We've got five blondes in this movie. One is pure evil, one is an easily manipulated idiot, one is an idiot and neglectful and one's the girlfriend of a bank robber.
- Break the Cutie: Elizabeth.
- California Doubling: The film is filmed in Florida, but set in Texas. Why they didn't just set it in Florida (it's a small beach town, and it just SCREAMS Florida) is something to ponder.
- The Chessmaster: Thelma.
- Children Are Innocent: Not just averted, but beaten into submission.
- Consummate Liar: Thelma. She tricks pretty much everybody right up to the end of the film. Even after he's been tricked by her many times before, Robert is still able to be tricked by her.
- Corruption of a Minor by a Minor: Thelma, a psychotic, sociopathic 9-year-old, turns Elizabeth, a normal 9-year-old, into her spying and blackmail accomplice.
- Cowboy Cop: Is it generally legal for the police to shoot someone with a shotgun when she's unarmed? Because if not, the entire police force.
- Creepy Child: Thelma, again. One may also see Elizabeth this way.
- Cute and Psycho: Thelma.
- Devil in Plain Sight: Seriously, Thelma's just creepy in general, and seemingly nobody but Dorothea can tell.
- The Dog Bites Back: Robert tries to do this, but gets the wrong person. Then he doesn't have a chance to do it to the right one.
- Enfant Terrible: Thelma. Dear god, Thelma.
- Evil Versus Evil: It's a bank robber and cheater vs. a psychotic little girl.
- Fan Disservice: A close-up of Elizabeth's skimpy panties? Err, movie, that's just a bad plan in general.
- Hope Spot: Elizabeth is still alive, but then again, the police are hardly going to want to have to deal with the fact they killed an unarmed bank robber, not murderer, and who's going to believe her?
- Infant Immortality: Seemingly averted, but followed.
- Ironic Echo: After Thelma decides to kill Elizabeth, Elizabeth tries to talk her down by saying that they're friends. Cue Thelma purposely invoking this trope, as Elizabeth had said they weren't friends after the last time Thelma pointed a gun at her.
- It's All About Me: Thelma, for the millionth time.
- Insistent Terminology: Thelma is not "kid", she's Thelma, and she will remind you of this.
- Karma Houdini: Thelma. For a nine year old who tricked the police, blackmailed and robbed two people, got one killed by the police to shut him up, tried to kill her only friend and blackmailed her brother, she gets ice cream.
- Kick the Dog: Thelma does it, we're just not sure when the first, seeing as she's practically kicking the dog back and forth.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Thelma to Robert and Dorothea.
- Kids Are Cruel: Thelma. Elizabeth is a borderline example, but only due to Thelma.
- Kids Versus Adults: Scaled down, but still present.
- Lack of Empathy: If you hadn't guessed, Thelma.
- Little Miss Badass: Thelma, of course. Her aim is horrible, but she still manages to shoot Elizabeth twice.
- Loners Are Freaks: Thelma gain. She mentions that Elizabeth is her only friend, and seems to prefer watching TV over most other things.
- Magic Skirt: Averted.
- Manipulative Bastard: Really, does this even need to read "Thelma" before you know that, once again, it's Thelma? She's just as good at manipulating emotions as people.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Elizabeth. Nobody likes having their "friend" aim a gun at them.
- The New Rock & Roll: Being 1989, an elderly side character switches a music video of some rock star (if you know who it is, change it to that) and switches to a televangelist. It's not completely certain if the creators themselves are of this opinion, however.
- No Nonsense Nemesis: Thelma will shoot you if you're ruining everything. Or get you shot by the cops. On the other hand, Robert doesn't seem to do anything right. He's willing to trust that Thelma will do the right thing after she's ruined his life. Really now, is he that stupid? He likely knows that she killed Elizabeth, so why should he think she would let him live?
- Pædo Hunt: Completely averted.
- Panty Shot: From the front. With a close-up. Done again from the back when Elizabeth is running for her life.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Robert tries to do this to Thelma, just planning on scaring her (after he hurt her brother, thinking he was the blackmailer). He never gets a chance, though.
- Redemption Earns Life: Elizabeth survives getting shot in the arm and chest, as well as being face down in ocean water for several minutes... somehow.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Elizabeth, or not as the last few seconds show.
- Shout Out: A visual shout out, one of the many sets of sunglasses the girls own are heart-shaped glasses.
- The Sociopath: Thelma. You know, this feels like a running gag at this point.
- Tagline: "She's spying on two strangers, she's about to murder her best friend and she's only 9 years old!"
- Title Drop: Given sarcastically by Robert (John Hurt).
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Spying, blackmail, watching people have sex in real life, attempted murder, murder-by-cop, and watching B horror movies and rock music videos. Oh, and watching porn.
- Unexplained Recovery: Elizabeth, you got shot twice and then were face down in the ocean for at least five minutes, seeing as the fishing boat isn't a speed boat and was far away. How the HELL are you not dead?
- Villain Protagonist: All four of the main characters are criminals, but Thelma takes the cake by being the main character and the most evil.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Thelma. She's much better at planning crimes than most normal criminals (certainly better that the standard criminals she's dealing with) and is one of the few villains who will just kill you if you get in the way.