The Tic Code (1998)



Critic Consensus: Though the story is conventional, it's nonetheless sympathetic and credible.

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Movie Info

Actress Polly Draper, best known for her role on the TV series thirtysomething, wrote and co-produced this family drama, as well as playing the female lead. Draper plays Laura, a single mother whose ten-year-old son Miles (Christopher Marquette) is already displaying a remarkable gift as a jazz pianist. However, Miles suffers from a mild case Tourette's Syndrome, a disorder that's not life threatening but causes victims to display a series of pronounced physical and facial tics, as well as occasional emotional outbursts. Miles makes friends with two bartenders at a jazz club, who let the kid sneak in to see shows and eventually introduce him to acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tyrone Pike (Gregory Hines). It seems Tyrone and Miles have something in common -- Tyrone also has Tourette's, but unlike Miles he's learned to disguise his condition with a variety of mannerisms, and prefers not to discuss the matter. Tension develops between the two when Tyrone and Laura develop a mutual attraction, which creates tension between the two musicians and forces Tyrone to confront some personal issues he's spent much of his life avoiding. The Tic Code was shown at the Vancouver Reel to Real Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, the Hamptons Film Festival and the Giffoni Film Festival in 1999 before its run on the Starz! premium cable service.
R (adult situations/language)
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Gregory Hines
as Tyrone Pike
Carol Kane
as Miss Gimpole
Camryn Manheim
as Mrs. Swensrut
Dick Berk
as Dick
Robert Iler
as Denny
Bill Nunn
as Kingston
Allison Nurse
as Blond 1
Peter Appel
as Engineer
Pat Moya
as Belinda
Ismail Bashey
as Indian Man
Blair Ashlee Swanson
as Confident Girl
Michael Wolff
as Engineer 2
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Critic Reviews for The Tic Code

All Critics (28) | Top Critics (12)

For me, it's just a little too restrained, with too many false notes.

December 31, 1999
Seattle Times
Top Critic

The Tic Code is the summer's surprise gift, a loving and humane film that rises above the season's overhyped blockbusters like a flower poking up through the concrete.

December 31, 1999
Top Critic

Raising it above the usual clichés are the superb jazz music and a sparkling script by lead actress Polly Draper.

December 31, 1999
New York Post
Top Critic

It's got more genuine-seeming feelings and a more accurate take on its particular corner of the world than a colosseum of summer blockbusters.

December 31, 1999
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Starts out self-consciously but gets better as it goes along, winding up as affecting as it is illuminating.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

This is the loving accomplishment of The Tic Code, to open a door onto the deepest kind of understanding.

December 31, 1999
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Tic Code

Great premise, script, and jazz soundtrack. This is no Disease of the Week movie and the producers do a nice job of avoiding cliche. Marquette's portrayal of a kid with Tourette's syndrome is spot on. Some scenes are overacted a bit.

Mara Barker
Mara Barker

If it seems to have the ingredients of an after-school special, it's also delightfully unsentimental, yet uplifting, and while spinning its wholly credible tale gives its audience quite a bit of knowledge and understanding about kids, an unusual disease, and the universe of jazz musicians.

Lee Mayo
Lee Mayo

Intelligent, uplifting story. Great acting. Realistic portrayal of Tourettes Syndrome by a very talented young actor. Great music. All around nice movie....good send off for the late Gregory Hines.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

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