Here’s an idea. Try walking into a theater screening of Little Boy, a new “faith-based” movie from director Alejandro Gómez Monteverde (Bella), endure the 100+ minute running time, and walk out without a headache. I would venture to say that it’s an impossible task, because not only is this one of the worst movies I’ve seen this year, but it’s also one of the ugliest and most annoying.
Marketed toward the faith-centered moviegoers (they’re the fans of movies like God’s Not Dead and Courageous), Little Boy proves to be a kind of bait-and-switch as it pulls the crowd in only to reveal itself to be a “war comedy-drama” that is neither comedic nor dramatic. It tells the story of 7-year old Pepper Busbee, a little boy with a disability that makes him smaller than all of the other kids. Taking place in the 1940s, the movie follows Pepper as he attempts to use his faith to bring his father back from the war after he is supposedly taken as a POW or simply dead. The local priest (Tom Wilkinson, somehow managing to be a star in two of the worst movies of the year so far) convinces him that he can do anything if he has faith the size of a mustard seed. Little Boy, as he nicknamed throughout the film, takes all of this a bit too literally.
As Little Boy tries to bring his dad back by crossing deeds off of a list given to him by the priest (Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc.), he also endures bullying by the big fat kid (of course he does) and, much to the disapproval of everyone in the town (his big brother, especially), he befriends a local “Jap.” This creates a large variety of problems (there’s the obvious unwelcomed-guest-gets-turned-down-in-the-restaurant scene), but it is one of the finer aspects of the film’s story.
For the most part, this movie is just terrible, from a few moderately (maybe unintentional) offensive scenes involving Hiroshima to the wannabe well-intentioned but ultimately cheesy moral lessons. I’m not saying that Little Boy doesn’t mean well, but I’m not saying that it does mean well either. And when it reached the point where everyone in the town cheered for Little Boy for the dropping of “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, I began to really despise it. And that aforementioned headache will come when Little Boy stretches his arms out and groans loudly, attempting to “move a mountain.” It’s just atrocious.