Synopsis: An eight-year-old boy is willing to do whatever it takes to end World War II so he can bring his father home. The story reveals the indescribable love a father has for his little boy and the love a son has for his father.
Release Date: April 24, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
War movies are usually all about the fighting, but sometimes they focus on other aspects of international conflict. Last year, audiences saw how World War II affected children in Europe in The Book Thief. Now, we get to see how American children viewed the war with Little Boy.
Little Boy is the story of Pepper Busbee (Jakob Salvati from “Red Widow”), a kid who suffers from a medical condition that stunts his growth, earning him the nickname “Little Boy” with all of the other neighborhood kids. His best friend is his father (Michael Rapaport from “Boston Public”), who feeds Pepper’s imagination by playing with him and constantly asking the youngster “do you believe that you can do this?”, a question to which Pepper always answers “Yes I believe!” When his father is drafted into the army and has to go overseas and fight the Japanese, Pepper is upset but hopeful that his father will return safely. A priest named Father Oliver (The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s Tom Wilkinson) gives Pepper a list of things that he can do to help him have faith, one of which is to befriend the town’s only Japanese citizen, a man named Hashimoto (47 Ronin‘s Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) who was just released from an internment camp. Through his friendship with Hashimoto, Pepper is exposed to the prejudice and hatred that the war has brought to America. He learns a few things about the nature of mankind, but he also is able to teach the town a lesson or two about faith and hope, all while desperately trying everything he can think of, real and imaginary, to bring his father home safely.
Written and directed by Alejandro Monteverde (Bella), Little Boy is as close to an Amblin film as one is bound to get these days. The world and the war are seen through the eyes of an idealistic little kid who still believes that magic will help bring his father home from the frontlines. What’s more, there’s more than a little bit of proof that he’s right, despite all of the adults in the film telling him that all of his hocus-pocus and abracadabra won’t work. Pepper’s faith in himself and in his father is greater than that of his detractors. It’s a fairly light and funny movie, but it’s got its share of pulls at the heartstrings as well. In short, Little Boy is the type of film that Steven Spielberg might make during one of his less-serious months.
The town of O’Hare, California plays an important part in Little Boy. It seems to be isolated from the rest of the country, so all that they know about the war and the enemy is fed to the citizens through news propaganda and rumors. At one point, it appears that Pepper’s magical experiments are working, so the once-bullied boy becomes a cult figure around the town. It’s an uplifting story, but Pepper is not interested in being any kind of a legend. He just wants his dad back. And that focus is what makes him such a likeable hero.
Little Boy isn’t much of a war movie. There are a handful of combat scenes, but it’s more of a heartwarming coming of age film about a boy who misses his father. That’s all it is, and that’s all it pretends to be. Despite this, or maybe because of it, Little Boy is a very enjoyable movie that will turn even the harshest of audiences into true believers.
There’s some creative and interesting editing in Little Boy. The core story is told with standard continuity editing, but there are a number of suspenseful montages thrown into the mix that really liven things up. The editing was done by Meg Ramsay (The Frankenstein Theory), Joan Sobel (Admission, Being Flynn), and Fernando Villena (The Darkest Hour), and each cook seems to bring their own special flavor to the broth. There are a handful of comical, melodramatic scenes that show Pepper and his father playing, and they’re cut in the style of whatever fantasy the two happen to be engaged in; whether they’re playing cowboy, pirate, or superhero, the segments reflect the emotion. There are also a few more serious montages that show Pepper’s father’s experiences in the South Pacific, scenes that use plenty of jump cutting and match cuts to exhibit what he’s doing as opposed to what the family is doing back home at the same time. Still other scenes are cut with the intensity of an action or adventure movie. The entire film is tied together with tasteful news footage and war shots that help to forward the narrative as well. For a continuously chronological film, Little Boy contains some clever and inventive editing.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Alejandro Monteverde
- Producer(s): Leo Severino
- Screenwriter(s): Alejandro MonteverdePepe Portillo
- Cast: Jakob SalvatiDavid HenrieEmily Watson Kevin JamesMichael RapaportEduardo VerásteguiBen ChaplinTom WilkinsonCary-Hiroyuki TagawaAbraham Benrubi
- Editor(s): Meg Ramsay
- Cinematographer: Andrew Cadelago
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Rebecca Gregg and Laura Jean Shannon
- Casting Director(s): Dianne CrittendenKaren Rea
- Music Score: Stephan Altman and Mark Foster
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: Mexico/USA