Following a string of negative reviews for his latest film, “Little Boy,” award-winning director and screenwriter Alejandro Monteverde said audiences should see the movie and draw their own conclusions about the film. While the movie has won the overwhelming approval of audiences, it has drawn criticism from reviewers. “‘Little Boy’ is a victim of labeling. It was labeled as a faith-based film and it is not a faith-based film. It is a film for everybody,” Monteverde told CNA April 30. While his award-winning 2006 film, “Bella,” went largely unnoticed by the mainstream media, “Little Boy” gained the attention — and contempt — of some film critics, who described it as a “Sunday-school lesson” that would appeal only to “faith-based” audiences. “Of course, of anything, when somebody says something offensive, in the beginning it hurts,” Monteverde admitted, “Then you have to ask, ‘where is this coming from?’” For the director, the special hatred that many reviewers seem to have for his latest work comes from it being labeled a “faith-based Christian film.” This mischaracterization influenced critics before they even saw the film and that showed up in the “offensive” way they reviewed the movie, he said. “The way the movie was presented to the critics might have influenced them in the wrong way and they came with everything in a very vicious attack.” On the popular movie review site, Rotten Tomatoes, “Little Boy” received an average score of 89 percent from audiences, 17 percent from industry film critics, and 10 percent from “top critics.” “I think we broke the record,” Monteverde said of the rating discrepancy, “it’s the first time there was such a large gap; we’re talking almost 80 points.” Of course, critics should be able to voice their opinions “if they really understand what an artist goes through to make a movie or to make a painting,” he said, but in this case it seems that they are simply telling people what to think. “It’s just very dangerous when one person tells everybody, ‘You will feel this way’,” he said. Audiences should see the film before making up their minds about it, otherwise they are letting those in positions of power dictate their opinions, he continued. “We need to allow people to read their own hearts, (and for) critics to say, ‘No, this is my point of view, you should see it and see if you agree with me,’” he said. Monteverde invited audiences to see the film and form their own opinion. “I would even dare to say that if they don’t like it, to call me and I will actually personally pay their ticket back,” he said. “I have screened the movie to thousands and thousands of people and it’s a movie for the audience.” The film follows the spiritual journey of the town runt, Pepper Busbee / Little Boy (Jakob Salvati), while his dad — and only friend (Michael Rapport) — is fighting in the Pacific during WWII. After seeing his favorite magician Ben Eagle (Ben Chaplin) perform, Pepper is led to believe that he has magical powers that can do anything if he just believes strongly enough. After he and his brother, London (David Henrie), are caught terrorizing the town outcaste, Mr. Hashimoto (Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa), for being Japanese, his mother (Emily Watson) sends him to the parish priest, Father Oliver (Tom Wilkinson), who redirects his enthusiasm for magic to growing his faith in God by serving others and befriending Mr. Hashimoto. “Little Boy” is now in select theaters nationwide.
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