Placing a young child at the center of a movie is a good way to attract families with children to the theater. We all tend to be drawn toward characters with whom we can closely relate with, right? At the same time, child protagonists can tap into something deep within adults; we were all young at one point and, depending on how good our memories are, continue to relate to or at least learn from the way children view the world in real life as well as on the big screen.
Ender’s Game is the newest film to utilize a talented young cast in a story focused on a young hero. As I’ve said elsewhere, this is a risky endeavor. Performances by child actors seem like a tightrope walk, capable of slipping into awkward self-consciousness or grating staginess at any moment. Careful direction and editing would presumably be even more important when dealing with young actors as they have little film experience to draw from, in addition to more limited life experience.
Sometimes the young hero role is pulled off brilliantly, and other times it can be painful. Sometimes pain is the point though, with the awkwardness portrayed by the child star becoming the crux of the character and the point of the story, or at least adding a certain flavor to it.
So, on that note, here are 10 examples of child protagonists that have made us laugh, cry, and at times, bang our heads against the wall.
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