Little BoyDVD - 2015
From the critics
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Spoiler Alert (read quotes after the movie unless you don't mind spoiler)
Pepper: Father Oliver said God was responsible ... Hashimoto said it was my father's will ...
Hashimoto: I do believe men can move mountains, Ollie. With dynamite.
Oliver: I believe that what happened to the mountain can't be reduced to a game of chance.
Hashimoto: Much of life is a gamble, Ollie. You're advising a desperate child who's ready to believe anything
that he is told. So tell me, Ollie... what happens when your imaginary friend works in His mysterious ways... and his father dies?
Oliver: Then my "imaginary friend" will also help him through it.
Hashimoto: Tell the kid to stop. If he doesn't, could lose faith in himself. That's what you should be worrying about.
You told the boy that if he waves a magic wand, he can bring his father back. You don't believe that, do you?
Fr. Oliver: Maybe. Maybe not. If it's God's will, yes. He can do anything. He could turn you into a rabbit if He wanted to. Have faith, Hashimoto. You should try it.
Hashimoto: Not again. I do have faith. Faith in oneself. Not in your imaginary friend in the sky. Let's hope this little game of yours doesn't mess with the boy's mind.
Father Crispin: That's the kind of faith that Moses had when he parted the Red Sea... the kind of faith that little David had when he defeated Goliath with a little stone. That's what we need, my friends, in these difficult times. So like Father Oliver used to ask, "What can we do? What can we do for our relatives at war? What can we do if we are here and they are there? And the answer is... if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move a mountain. If we can move a mountain, then nothing will be impossible for us. Not even ending this war... and having our loved ones back.
Father Oliver: There, it moved.
Pepper: No, you moved it.
Oliver: Yes, because you moved me to move it. See, I moved it because you wanted the bottle to move so much. And that, you could say, is how faith works. At least some of the time.
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Think I'm harsh? This is Alan Scherstul of the Village Voice's summary:
Did you know that there's a new family-audience feature film that implies God nuked Japan because one plucky American moppet dared to dream? That's no exaggeration. In the summer of 1945, the kid stands on a California dock, points his fingers magician-style out at the Pacific horizon, and screams a series of prayerful "Arggggh!"s in his efforts to perform some war-ending miracle. He's trying to move heaven and earth to get his father home from a P.O.W. camp; the movie, confoundingly, intercuts the dad's capture and torture with the son's being tossed by small-town bullies into a dumpster.
The kid prays and arggghs until the filmmakers, gauche and monstrous, cue up a jubilant "This Little Light of Mine" for the payoff to a gag you will have dreaded since learning the film is called Little Boy and that "Little Boy" is its small-fry hero's nickname. One morning his neighbors are dancing in the street, and the headline in the local paper credits "Little Boy" with de facto ending the war. That God, always eager to smite foreign cities if you just believe!
Examinations of faith on film don't have to be noxious. This spring a welcome restoration of René Clément's 1952 jewel Forbidden Games will be hitting screens. That's an honest film about children's faith and trauma in World War II, one about the ways that ritual can help us persevere through loss. But Little Boy is fitted for an era in which finding the faith that might sustain just isn't uplifting enough -- despite the fact that that's the only thing faith can actually do. Instead, the faith of Pepper Busbee (Jakob Salvati) is just another superpower.
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