'Little Boy' Stands Tall

Little Boy is a little movie with a big heart. It doesn't have a huge cast of A-list stars or a mega-million dollar budget, still it gets its story of family love and individual faith across with warmth and compassion. Audiences looking for a movie that tells an enriching story will warm to this film from the start.

The time is the 1940s, and the setting is a small town in California. The Busbee family lives there and consists of father James (Michael Rappaport), mother Emma (Emily Watson), oldest son London (David Henrie) and younger son Pepper (Jakob Salvati). They live a fairly idyllic life, with their biggest concern being the lack of physical growth on the part of Pepper. Because of his short size, he is constantly teased by the bullies in his town. They have been warned by their parents not to call him a midget, so they opt to call him "little boy."

Soon, there are more serious concerns for the Busbee family. After London is turned down to serve in the army, James decides to take his place. No one is more shattered by this news than Pepper. He can not understand why his father would leave the family, and from the day James leaves, his son is trying to find a way to get him back home safely.

He hears if you have the faith of a mustard seed you can move mountains, so he begins to work on his faith. His priest (Tom Wilkinson) gives him a list of things he can do to improve his faith and his spiritual well-being. One item concerns being nice to the only Japanese person living in their town. His name is Hashimoto (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) and "little boy" hates him for being the enemy.

The movie follows "little boy's" path to faith and shows how it affects the entire town. This is done in a way that is not maudlin, but heart-warming. If it causes tears to flow, well that is the nature of the circumstances, and not a cheap way to wrest emotion from the audience.

The movie rests on the shoulders of Salvati, and he is well up to the task. He is the best child crier since Jackie Cooper was in his prime. He also can handle every acting requirement sent his way. The rest of the cast is there to support him, and all included do their part. This also includes Kevin James, Ted Levine and Ali Landry.

The movie is rated PG-13 for violence and adult situations.

Little Boy is one of the best family films to come out of Hollywood in some time. Co-writer/director Alejandro Monteverde has created a film of faith that comes to life on the screen with dignity, drama, humor and heart.

I scored Little Boy a towering 8 out of 10.

Jackie K. Cooper: