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Little Boy is a story about an 8 year old boy who believes he can help end WWII and bring his father home from the war. This is a tale about faith, spirituality, and family set against the backdrop of World War II. Little Boy was produced by Leo Severino (Bella) and executive produced by Mark Burnett, Ricardo Del Rio, Roma Downey, and Eduardo Verastegui.
This is a story about a boy named Pepper Flynt Busbee (Jakob Salvati) and his journey through faith. The story centers upon this little boy and his family. Pepper Busbee wishes for the war to end. He wants to do anything necessary to help end it and bring his father home from World War II. Pepper's mother is Emma Busbee (Emily Watson), his older brother is London Busbee (David Henrie), and his father is James Busbee (Michael Rappaport).
As the story unfolds, Pepper receives guidance from Fr. Oliver (Tom Wilkinson) who inspires in him to not give up hope and presents him with a list of things to do to help give him faith the war can end. One of the things on the list is to be kind to Hashimoto (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), who is a Japanese-American citizen who faces racial prejudice from many in the town. The film is quite frank about the racism against Japanese-Americans during the time period. It's an interesting and important aspect of the film's story. Pepper initially believes the townspeople (with many blaming Hashimoto and other Japanese individuals for the war). Through Fr. Oliver's guidance Pepper comes to know Hashimoto as the kindhearted person he is and they become friends over the course of the story.
Pepper spends his time trying to complete the items from Fr. Oliver's list to help end World War II. He completes items from the list with the help of Hashimoto. Pepper also believes in magic and is enthralled by the magician Ben Eagle (Ben Chaplin). Magic inspires Pepper to believe in the possibility of the war ending. Pepper carries around a comic with Ben Eagle and engages his imagination. He believes he can use magic himself and move a mountain and that this will be something that can end the war.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fox (Kevin James) is a local doctor who helps the family during the war but who is interested in Emma and doesn't think the father will return from the war. Emma tries keeping the spirit up of her family. London, who was injured and cannot serve in war, keeps working with the family business.
Little Boy is an exquisitely produced film with amazing cinematography by Andrew Cadelago (Bella). Cadelago has an animation background and worked on Little Boy in this capacity as well. The film is visually gorgeous with stunning photography throughout. The production design was done by Bernardo Trujillo (Babel) and amazes with great detail to the period.
Costume designs were created by Rebecca Gregg (Iron Man) and Laura Jean Shannon (Chef, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). The designs for Little Boy certainly fit the WWII period well. These costumes were quite impressive to behold. The original score composed by Stephan Altman (Bella) and Mark Foster worked well with the filmmaking as well. These and other impressive production elements made the filmmaking even more effectively done.
Directed by Alejandro Monteverde (Bella) and written by Alejandro Monteverde and Pepe Portillo, Little Boy is a big-hearted and ambitious film. There are certain aspects of the film which weren't as effectively done in terms of the storytelling: some scenes that were deleted would have handled the sub-plot of the racism in the town a little better and the ending to the film is not as strong as it could have been. Even so, Little Boy mostly works well. Filmmaker Monteverde is quite a talent and should prove to have a long filmmaking career.
Little Boy is not quite as strong as Monteverde's feature debut Bella. However, Little Boy is still certainly a worthwhile effort which is worth seeking out for fans of the filmmaker. There are great performances from the cast, the production is exquisite, and the story is one which is inspiring. This is a film about the importance of faith, hope, and family. It's an ambitious production well worth discovering.
Little Boy is presented in 1080p High Definition with an MPEG-4 AVC encode in the theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The image is impressive with great color reproduction, clarity, and definition. The cinematography by Andrew Cadelago is rather incredible with beautiful imagery and artistry on display. This Blu-ray release offers an impressive presentation of the film.
Little Boy is presented with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound presentation. The audio is strong with good fidelity and clarity. The depth of the bass is sometimes impressive as well. The audio is lively during many sequences and the entire film has excellent dialogue reproduction. Score music composed by Stephan Altman (Bella) and Mark Foster sounds pleasant as well. This is certainly a dynamic and satisfying audio experience.
Subtitles are presented in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing), Spanish, and French.
This release is a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy (UV) Combo Pack. The release comes with a slipcover.
Animated Short: Snack Attack (4:37), which was made with the involvement of some of the same crew who helped to make Little Boy.
Special Thanks to Our Little Boy Ambassadors (1:55) is a thank you message to supporters of the film who helped to make it happen.
Deleted Scenes (10:27) include: Ben Eagle Full Episode, Drill Magic, Like Brothers, Atomic Newsreel, Sad Montage, Rocket. Some of these scenes are quite good and it makes little sense that all of it was cut from the final film. There are moments that should not have been left on the cutting-room floor. Sad Montage offered a more emotionally resonant moment with several main characters and Rocket would have been a good closing sequence.
Little Boy is an inspirational story about the power of faith. The film is the second feature from writer-director Alejandro Monteverde (Bella). The film features strong performances, a great production design, and stunning cinematography. Though the film doesn't always reach the heights of its ambitions, Little Boy is a film well worth seeking out.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.