Rated: PG-13 for some mature thematic material and violence. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: April 24, 2015 Released by: Open Road Films
The new well-intentioned but overly hoary and maudlin Little Boy will touch those into Heaven Is For Real, even Son of God with its faith-based tenet, here with a prejudicial, xenophobia slant.
Alejandro Monteverde's hokey, manipulative, and shifting yarn deals with the O'Hare, California community following Pearl Harbor who loathes the Japanese especially after loving husbandand father James (Michael Rapaport) is captured in the Philippines while serving his country.
His older son London (David Henrie) is beset with flat feet which disqualifies him from the military and young, diminutive 7-year-old Pepper (a debut for Jakob Salvati) has lost his best friend and may have undiagnosed disabilities.
During his heartbreak a gentle local priest (Tom Wilkinson) has Pepper do alms as a way make his loved one return. The key figure in this amicable request is the older Hashimoto (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) a long-standing warm, unassuming Japanese-American (over four decades) who has become a pariah in the community which harshly taunts him.
The title comes from the disdain placed on Pepper, adorably wistful in his visage, yet Salvati hardly brings the requisite soulfulness to the character. And, the script undermines the efforts of a dignified Tagawa to give a jolt of dramatic depth and richness. Kevin James actually isn't that bad as a doctor who longs for Pepper's rightfully worried mother (Emily Watson of War Horse). Ultimately, the filmmaking dilutes its way through ignorance and embarrassment to a teary-eyed finish.