Movie Review: 'Little Boy'

science | Apr 24, 2015 | By Leticia Velasquez

My family and I have always loved Forrest Gump (with selective editing!) When I tried to figure out why, it always came down to this story line; an innocent man teaches the cynics who surround him in his life how to believe in goodness and love wholeheartedly with amazing results. The movie “Little Boy” has the same appealing plot line; a diminutive yet courageous little boy faces down the great evil of World War II in an effort to bring his father home.
 
Pepper Flynt Busbee (Jakob Salvati) is the smallest kid in his small town of O’Hare on the Pacific Ocean; bullied by the boys his age, and pushed around by his big brother. But his daddy taught him courage and Pepper is determined to overcome evil through his great faith (which at first he has confused with magic powers). He is inspired when his parish priest preaches about faith the size of a mustard seed which can move mountains and, after a false start where his brother encourages him to attack the home of a Japanese man (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Hashimoto), his mother brings him to church for confession and some guidance.
 
The gentle paternal relationship of Pepper and Father Oliver (Tom Wilkinson) is something we have not seen from Hollywood in decades. Father Oliver uses the Corporal Works of Mercy as a guide to increase Pepper’s faith and teaches him to overcome his racism against Mr. Hashimoto. Pepper’s determination to follow Father’s guidelines inspires his entire town to examine their behavior and believe in faith. 
 
Little Boy is pure cinematic magic, there is nostalgia, wonder, laughter, and of course, tears. I heard people crying on both sides of me and minutes later they burst out in applause as the credits rolled.  I attended a preview where an entire multiplex in Boston was filled to overflowing with enrapt filmgoers of all ages. The passionate acting of Jakob Salvati kept even the little boys riveted while the clever laughs kept the film from being pedantic. 
 
This is a film for all ages, where the entire family will be talking about the various themes afterward. No offensive language though a couple of fight and battle scenes along with real war footage make this for older children and up.  I dare say Forrest Gump may have met his match in “Little Boy”. 
 
Spero columnist Leticia Velasquez is the author of A Special Mother is Born.

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