Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Little Boy -- A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Review Crew
In early September the Schoolhouse Review Crew learned that was offering Crew members a selection of DVDs to chose from to review. 

The titles we had to choose from were great, and it was a difficult choice. With my daughter's input, I decided to request Little Boy. It was so exciting when it arrived! I anxiously looked forward to an opportunity to view it.
My daughter was a history major in college, so she is still waiting for me to pass it off to her. I saw her several days ago, but I didn't want to part with the DVD until I had finished writing up my review. is an on-line one-stop store for Christian and wholesome movies. I was fortunate to review a movie for earlier this year. It was a high-quality movie, my son loved it, and I was hoping for a similar experience. started over a decade ago when a Turkish Christian, Dr. Enis Sakirgil, became involved in the making of "Apostle Paul and the Earliest Churches". After producing that film, Dr. Sakirgil emigrated with his family to the United States and began selling "Apostle Paul...", and then began selling other Christian movies. I think he has found a niche, and I love to support small businesses.

When the movie arrived I told my husband about it and asked him if we could set time aside and have a family movie night. Little Boy had just been released for rental in the local "Color-Box" rental boxes, so I was excited to have our own copy. Life is busy, and our movie night didn't happen and didn't happen. I nagged reminded my husband and waited, and nagged reminded, and finally our viewing time came. It turned out to just be he and I, and I figured it doesn't hurt to preview a movie, even though my son is almost 16.

The movie begins in about 1941, just before the United States gets involved in World War II. The story centers on a family with a husband and wife and two sons: London, who is 18, and Pepper, who is 8. 

Set in California, the father and London run a garage (repair shop), but London is still not very good at car repairs. Pepper, obviously, is in school. Pepper is extremely small, to the point of being mocked, and people around town take to calling him "Little Boy" (hence the title of the movie). Because he is so small and is being mocked, Pepper has no friends. His father tries to fill the void, being Pepper's friend.

When the US gets pulled into the war, the older son goes to enlist, but is disqualified because of flat feet. Since the son cannot enlist, the father feels obligated to enlist to represent their family. Now frankly, I am totally lost on this concept. I have never heard that there was such a mindset in the era of World War II, which my father fought in. This mindset reminds me of Ming Dynasty China. Am I wrong? So already I was having a problem with the concept that the main conflicts of the drama are based on.

Dad goes overseas and is fighting in the Japanese theater of the war (as opposed to the European theater) and gets taken prisoner. The entire family grieves and struggles over this news, each in his or her own way. Little Boy, particularly feels ineffectual and powerless, wishing there were some way he could help bring his father home. London struggles, unable to run the garage well and feeling that he should have been the one who went to war, not his father.

The movie addresses many issues of the day: financial struggles, homelessness, prejudice, drinking. The story line becomes very intense and emotional, and I won't spoil it for you. In the end, issues are resolved in their own way, with some emotional relief.

My take:
In this world, there are many types of movies.
  • Some movies just make you happy, and you buy them and watch them again and again;
  • Some movies are intense, and well worth the watching, although you sometimes watch them only once, or at least not that often;
  • There are documentaries, and educational films;
  • There are also some movies that just leave you with a feeling that you wish you hadn't spent the past hour and a half watching them, or at the very least you know you don't ever want to watch again, don't think you want your children to ever watch, and don't think you would talk about the movie without issue warnings.
Little Boy is a well made movie. It has in it some faces I recognized from television shows and recent movies. The cinematography is professional; some of the scenery is breath-taking.
My husband and I, though, did not like the movie. It's cover reports that it is "The Best Family Film of the Year". Well, I don't know what the judgment criteria were, but my family has different tastes than this. We wished we had spent our time some other way. You may feel differently, I don't know.
The movie cover reports that this movie is "powerful, moving, and heartwarming" and that it "will capture your heart and lift your spirits". Our major complaint was this: for a movie that spent so much time causing us dread, grief and sadness, it did not spend enough time lifting our spirits. I finished the movie feeling like I had been fist-punched in the stomach. My husband's attitude was that at least we didn't pay anything for it. We compared it as slightly higher than the worst movie-watching experience we've had in decades.
I know that sounds harsh. I'm sorry -- but I give honest reviews. My not liking this movie should in no way reflect badly on -- they are a great company working hard to provide a wide variety of films to a primarily Christian audience. But we really can't recommend this film. No, not this one.

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