Looking for an uplifting and touching yet authentic film? Then look no further than “Little Boy.”
What do mustard seeds, magicians, corporal works of mercy, and short stature have in common? Little Boy. Critics panned Alejandro Monteverde’s new WWII movie while viewers rated this movie well. Recently, the Huffington Post acclaimed this movie as the Best Family Film of the Year. After wanting to support and view this film, I finally did and aptly on Memorial Day weekend. Little Boy captures the 1940s Battle of the Home-front through the eyes of a precocious and precious boy whose diminutive stature earns him the title “Little Boy.” The film artfully captures the love of father and his child. A love many of us do not know or understand in an increasingly fatherless society. When the father (Michael Rapaport) joins the US army’s campaign/ defense of the Pacific, Little Boy’s (Jakob Salvati) love for his father prompts him to embark on a fantastical quest to bring his father home involving a magician (Ben Chaplain) and the magical power of belief. After Little Boy hears Fr. Crispin’s (Eduardo Verástegui) homily about mustard seed sized faith, the local pastor, Fr. Oliver (Tom Wilkenson,) gives Little Boy a prayer card of sorts listing the corporal works of mercy and another line item: Befriend the local Japanese resident, Hashimoto (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.) Little Boy struggles with the prejudice in his town, family, and heart. Because even with the smallest ounce of hatred, great acts of faith cannot transpire. Do you believe he can do it?
Spoiler Alerts: Movie Specifics . . .
At times, a blend between Secondhand Lions and Bedtime Stories, the movie involves flashes into a child’s imagination as Little Boy processes and copes with his wartime situation. The flashes to old west showdowns, high sea adventures, and samurai warriors reminds me of my childhood imagination. The artful manner in which the imaginative elements weave into the film juxtapose the alignment of Little Boy’s home-front challenges with flashes into his father’s life-threatening situations somewhere in the Pacific.
Why didn’t the critics like it?
1.) Little Boy performs amazing feats in the name of faith. “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20) What if people believed in God again? Heaven and hell? Angels and Saints? Performed works in His holy name: Moved mountains, banished demons, healed the sick, forgave sins? Transformed hearts and culture? This movie portrays faith that literally moves mountains and transforms hearts.
2.) Metaphysical intangibles drive the film. I remember reading in Fr. Robert Spitzer’s, S.J.. book “Healing the Culture” about how our modern culture has ceased believing in metaphysical intangibles. Lay terms: Modernity teaches people to believe in only what can be seen, felt, proven by the senses or scientific reasoning while the metaphysical no longer exists because “it” cannot be proven by above reasoning. The most powerful “things” that hold society together are not proven, quantifiable tangibles but metaphysical intangibles: love, faith, God, virtue, forgiveness, mercy, hope, etc.
3.) Depicts the need for virtuous living that changes hearts, minds, and culture. Virtue, let alone heroic virtue, is considered an outdated concept. Little Boy hones virtue by performing Corporal Works of Mercy. As Catholic Christians, we believe our actions flow from the the salvific gift of faith. We strive to perform even the smallest acts of faith with great love transforming even the most menial task.
- Feed the hungry- invites a friend over/ Hashimoto
- Give drink to the thirsty- gives Hashimoto a soda
- Clothe the naked- knits a baby sweater for an expectant mother
- Shelter the homeless- gives pajamas & bedding to employee that works for father’s garage
- Visit the sick- visits injured veteran in hospital
- Visit the imprisoned- visits his brother Landon (David Henrie) in jail
- Bury the dead- his father
4.) Little Boy’s acts of faith come into fruition only after “burying” his father. I loved the ending of this film, but the ending highlights that prayers and petitions will be answered in accordance with God’s will. After undergoing the heart-wrenching reality of burying their father presumed dead, Mrs. Busbee (Emily Watson) & sons discover that their husband and father was misidentified and lives. They are reunited with their father. Little Boy’s goal accomplished. However, the reality of severe physical and psychological trauma are etched upon Mr. Busbee’s face. The journey only begins for the Busbee family. Another invitation to grow in heroic virtue, develop faith the size of the mustard seed, and believe in the metaphysical intangibles of love, hope, and faith.
Congratulations, to the members of the Latino/ Hispanic film community for producing an inspiring and touching film that challenges us all to develop faith the size of the mustard seed, embrace virtue, and believe in the metaphysical intangibles of faith, love, and hope despite adversity.
*Originally posted on Blessed&Beloved Blog.