A tale of a little boy who prays for his father’s safe return from World War II – and the moral lessons the boy learns along the way — Little Boy is a dramatic and deeply moving story of family, friendship, and the power of faith.
Release Date: April 25, 2015
MPAA rating: PG-13 for some mature thematic material and violence
Starring: Jakob Salvati, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Emily Watson, Michael Rapaport, Tom Wilkinson
Recommended age: 10+
Overall PTC Traffic Light Rating: Yellow
|War, explosions, guns, fistfights, bullying|
Pepper Busbee is a “little boy,” stunted in his physical growth but big in heart and faith. When his beloved father goes off to fight in World War II, a magic show and a sermon about “faith moving mountains” combine to convince Pepper that his own faith can bring his father back home safely. When Pepper asks his priest how to “make my faith grow,” the priest tells him to demonstrate love for others – especially Hashimoto, a Japanese-American released from an internment camp. Though condemned by adults and bullied by the other children, Pepper sticks by his new friend…and over time, demonstrates to the townspeople that faith CAN do anything – even move mountains.
Like director Alejandro Monteverde’s previous project Bella, Little Boy courageously confronts questions of controversy and faith, while interweaving them with moving, realistic character drama – and does so without using explicit language or depictions of sex.
There is some violent content in the film. A few brief scenes show Pepper’s father under fire during battle, and later being mistreated in a prison camp. Such mistreatment, however, consists mostly of being yelled at and shoved, with no graphic torture shown. Pepper is repeatedly bullied by older, bigger boys, and is pushed around, punched, and humiliated in various ways. The “little boy” also has some vivid daydreams, imagining himself in gunfights as a cowboy, swordfights as a samurai warrior, and visiting the remains of post-bomb Hiroshima, with blackened, statue-like bodies in the rubble. Hashimoto is also beaten, threatened, and abused by the townspeople, with his home vandalized and set afire, his car painted with racist graffiti, and Hashimoto himself treated in a hostile manner, being repeatedly called “Jap.”
Though the entire theme of the film makes clear that sentiments of bigotry and hate are morally wrong and destructive to individuals and society, Little Boy’s historically accurate scenes of wartime anti-Japanese racism led the MPAA to assign the movie a PG-13 rating – the same rating given to movies that feature graphic gore, sexual content, and multiple uses of the f-word. This decision demonstrates only how out of touch the MPAA is with most American moviegoers.
Faith is a central pillar of the film, though apart from a few conversations with a priest and a list of “works of mercy” Pepper is urged to perform, little religious content is explicitly shown. Treatment of faith in the picture varies from Pepper’s unshakeable belief, to his mother’s quiet support, to the priest’s careful handling of the issue, to the townspeople’s scorn, and even to Hashimoto’s references to God as an “imaginary friend;” but by the end of the picture, it becomes clear that the true transformative power of faith lies not in overt physical “miracles,” but in the way it changes people’s hearts.
Little Boy is a dramatic and deeply moving story of family, friendship, and the power of faith. The Parents Television Council is proud to award Little Boy with the PTC Seal of Approval®. The PTC recommends this film for viewers over age 10.
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