PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama, War
Review - Matt Mungle - @themungle
Every now and then a movie comes along that captures the heart and imagination so much that the feeling stays with you long after the credits roll. LITTLE BOY is one such film. It is possibly the greatest father/son movie ever made and one of the best films I have seen in decades. It is destined to be a classic and one that generations will watch and treasure.
Pepper "Little Boy" Busbee (Jakob Salvati) has struggled all of his 8 years with being small. He is picked on, made fun of, and literally looked over. But one person has always made him feel larger than life and that is his father, James (Michael Rapaport). The two are best friends and together there is nothing they can't do; if they simply believe the impossible. When World War II breaks out James must go off to war leaving a devastated Pepper back home. The Little Boy makes it his sole mission to bring his father back home; whatever it takes.
This film is the perfect balance of whimsical story, heart stirring themes, emotional drama, and inspirational teachings. Pepper hears from a local priest that if you have the faith of a mustard seed you can move mountains. That is all the motivation he needs. Taking that lesson to heart he begins a journey of blending faith with action. The love he has for his father drives him daily to tackle insurmountable odds. He must block out the naysayers and hold on to what is in his heart.
LITTLE BOY is also a serious look at how we see others around us. WWII was a time when Japanese Americans where not well received. If Pepper wants to truly fulfill his calling he has to befriend a local Japanese man the rest of the town rejects. This causes Pepper to see beyond hate and prejudice. It is powerful to watch this change of heart take place through a young child.
Amid all the drama and emotion is a light whimsical tone that warms the film. It moves much like a Tim Burton movie might. The characters have large personalities and writer/director Alejandro Monteverde makes them pop off the screen in magical wonder. It truly captures the 1940's in every way imaginable.
The supporting cast includes Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Kevin James, and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. But the sole of this film is the dynamic performance of Salvati. He will truly steal your heart as he transforms into this little boy who desperately wants his father back home.
LITTLE BOY is rated PG-13 for some mature thematic material and violence. There is nothing at all objectionable about this film. Younger viewers may find the themes of war, prejudice, and loss a bit much to comprehend but all others will find this a remarkable and lovable movie. I seldom give a 5 out of 5 rating but this one earned it on s many levels. One that I cant wait to watch with my son again and again.