Add "Little Boy" to the list of flicks that I had a blind date with. I knew zero about the film going in.
The first ten minutes showing the spectacular relationship/friendship/trust/bond between father James Busbee (played terrifically by Michael Rapaport) and his 7-year-old son, Pepper, (played by Jakob Salvati) was perfectly riveting, engaging, human, warm and, of course, sad at the end.
Set in early years of WWII, the eldest - who very much wanted to enlist - was declared 4-F and unable to serve due to flat feet. The film implies that some family representative must serve and the slot defers to the auto mechanic dad.
Now the movie has an awesome first 10-20 minutes. Pepper, who is extremely small for his age, is unmercifully bullied/teased by classmates. Dad, "his partner" a la their favorite comic book hero, is also Pepper's #1 champion and also confidante in the area of the bullying. His nickname in the community becomes "Little Boy" which becomes a bigger story once tied to a major military moment in the WWII.
Once Dad heads off to war, lots of religious spiritualism, miraculous powers and racism take over the film. I had no problem with any of those themes as story lines. It is just that the movie and the multiple story lines dragged and dragged.
Any movie including Emily Watson really hooks me and I loved her role and emotions as now both Mother and Father. Definitely some folks walked out of this movie. Plus this film included Tom Wilkinson in a decent role.
I'm happy I saw this film. I really wanted to love it (I'm big on hope, emotion and yes a little faith). However, this film had some serious script shortcomings.
Dang…It coulda' been a contender.