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Little Boy

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World War II tore American families apart both literally and figuratively. While there were a high number of civilians voluntarily enlisting to fight for the country they loved, there was still the need to draft. Families were required to send at least one able-bodied male to fight. Little Boy presents one such story, mostly told through the eyes of an eight-year-old boy who had to endure the feelings of loss and abandonment from his very best friend. This friend also happened to be the boy’s father. What follows is a rollercoaster ride of emotions; pride, fear, abandonment, anger, hope and many more.

Pepper Busbee (Jakob Salvati) is a just a young boy dealing with the daily trials that childhood seems to throw our way. He has an older brother, London (David Henrie) and two loving parents, Emma (Emily Watson) and James (Michael Rapaport). While Pepper loves his entire family it is the bond that he has with his father, James, that he cherishes the most. Pepper, you see, is quite small for his age and as you might assume, he often gets made fun of. His father, however, makes Pepper feel normal, important and special.

During the war the time has come for their family to make the same sacrifice that’s been asked of many American families before them as well as after. Unfortunately the elder son, London is denied entry into the Army for medical reasons leaving James to fill the family’s obligation. With Pepper being left without his father he must face the world as it really is and has a tough road ahead of him. Trouble ensues and Pepper eventually finds himself in the company of the local priest, Father Oliver (Tom Wilkinson). It is here he’s given a list of deeds to complete which he believes will bring dad back safe and sound from the war.

Little Boy sets out to move audiences with its gripping, ever evolving emotional tale. While director Alejandro Monteverde has good intentions trying to bring some lightheartedness to a very stressful time in America’s history, the mark is slightly missed. The tone of the movie is a bit scattered leaving audiences unable to bask in whatever is going on at the time. It’s a little too serious for a lighthearted, uplifting story. It’s also a bit too silly to stay focused on harsh reality of what is. You almost feel guilty for laughing or embarrassed for shedding a tear. Paradoxical poppycock!

By far the best performance in Little Boy is that of it’s young lead actor, Jakob Salvati. He is quite superb in his role as the lead actor. You can’t help but root for him throughout the entire movie. In addition the other actors already mentioned there are few others worth mentioning. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Ted Levine and Kevin James top that list. Of the three, only Tagawa gives a performance worth mentioning in a positive way. He does a very solid job as the ostracized lone Japanese person living among the Americans. Levine and James were just along for the ride as their characters were not ones that would stick in viewers’ heads.

Overall Little Boy is just another World War II drama that will probably fade into obscurity pretty quickly. The attempts to make it stand apart with sprinklings of cuteness, comedy and fantasy come up short. The only real bright spot is Jakob Salvati. He may be small in stature but his presence is tall on screen. If you’re aiming to see this one in theaters I wouldn’t wait too long because I don’t see it having a long run in the least. This is definitely more of a “wait to see it at home” kind of movie.

Little Boy is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler


  1. This movie was slow, but I still enjoyed it. I thought the actor (Jakob Salvati) did a great job portraying the Little Boy.

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