Story

Little Boy is set in the 1940s. It’s about a young boy named Pepper Busbee (Jakoc Salvati), who’s only 39 inches tall despite being 8 years old. He lives in California with his parents and older brother. When the United States begins enlisting soldiers for World War II, Pepper’s older brother is selected. When Pepper’s brother is medically disqualified, Pepper’s father, James (Michael Rapaport), goes instead.

Pepper is devastated when his father leaves to fight the Japanese. After a while, Pepper begins to believe that he has magical powers and might be able to bring his father back from the war. He speaks with a priest who recommends a list of ‘good deeds’ that Pepper should complete to bring his father back. One of the good deeds is befriending Mr Hashimoto, a Japanese-American who has been bullied and mistreated because of his race. As this friendship develops, Pepper lets go of the hatred he feels towards the Japanese for taking his father away. 

 

Themes

Relationships; war; racism and prejudice; bullying

Violence

Little Boy has quite a lot of violence. For example:

  • News footage of World War II shows some gun violence. Japanese soldiers shoot a prisoner of war in the back, and his corpse is shown. A man dies when a poison dart hits him in the neck as he runs forward in battle. 
  • There is also brief footage of injured war veterans and of a young boy who witnesses the Hiroshima bomb. 
  • Some men beat a Japanese-American man.
  • Children bully Pepper because of his size.
  • There are several sword fights between samurai soldiers, but we don’t see any blood. 

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by the violent scenes mentioned above. They might also be disturbed by a scene that shows a burns victim with bandages covering most of his injuries. 

From 5-8
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

From 8-13
Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Over 13
Younger children in this age group might be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Sexual references

Little Boy has some sexual references including a brief moment where a man talks about having the ‘best view’ from a certain chair, because there’s a woman bending over nearby.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Little Boy shows some mild use of substances. For example:

  • Several characters drink alcohol. One drinks while sitting with a group of other men in a bar, and another drinks on his own. 
  • A man smokes a cigarette.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

Little Boy has some mild coarse language, as well as some offensive racist language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Little Boy is an inspiring story about how one boy rises above racist hatred during World War II. 

The relationship between Pepper and his father is unshakeable, but the unlikely friendship between Pepper and Mr Hashimoto has the biggest impact on Pepper. Through this friendship, Pepper learns that he must judge people as individuals, not as racial stereotypes. The movie also highlights the destructive nature of bullying and the devastation that war causes in every country it touches.

Because of its themes and scenes of violence, we don’t recommend Little Boy for children under 14 years.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • having faith and believing in something bigger than yourself 
  • rising above racism and not believing in stereotypes
  • loving your parents.