Little Boy Blue (1997) from Tuna

Jimmy (Ryan Phillippe) is just out of high school. He is set to move in with his lovely girlfriend (Jenny Lewis) and attend college at her expense, while pursuing a promising baseball career. That has to be better than living in a trailer in the Texas panhandle with his crazy veteran father (John Savage) and his docile mother (Nastassja Kinski), who puts up with all of her husband's abuse. Yet he decides that he has to dump his girlfriend and remain at home, because he is the surrogate father to two younger brothers, and he doesn't feel that he can abandon them with his lunatic parents.

In one of several disjointed plot developments which eventually make sense, a private detective is murdered by the father at the bar where Kinski works. Our next big revelation comes when Jimmy's father orders him to fuck his mother. Finally, we learn that dad had his pecker shot off in Vietnam. Since all three boys were born after 'Nam ended, and we know who has been banging mom, we have most of what we need to solve the mystery twenty minutes into the film. The rest is revealed when Jimmy's real mother (Shirley Knight) shows up looking for her private detective, and a flashback shows where Jimmy came from. (In the flashback, Kaitlin Hopkins plays the younger version of her real-life mother, Shirley Knight.)

I tried to watch Little Boy Blue a couple of years ago, but the opening scenes turned me off, so I threw the disc into the "watch later" box. This time I realized that the film does get more involving after the first few scenes because it effectively creates some curiosity about the answers to all of the film's riddles. Unfortunately, the resolution is both implausible and unsatisfying. The screenwriter seems to have struggled with a way to incorporate Phillippe's outcome into the outcome of the other characters, and the result is clumsy.

I have several other problems with this film:

  • First, and perhaps most important, the script reveals the facts in a very confusing and irritating manner.
  • Second, there is never any explanation as to why Kinski stays with Savage and endures his abuse. Kinski was supposed to have been involved with Savage before he went to Vietnam, which seems odd in light of the fact that she was 38 when this movie was made, and Vietnam
  • Finally, the topless scene and incest theme earmarked the film for an R rating, but both Kinski and Jenny Lewis have sex fully dressed. This violates the prime directive: "Once you have the R, the tits are free."

The idea behind Little Boy Blue probably could have resulted in a good David Lynch film. Unfortunately, this film was not made by David Lynch.



  • No features
  • No widescreen version



Kaitlin Hopkins is topless in a deliberately grainy flashback.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 29% positive. Astoundingly enough for a film with a total gross of $12,000, it managed to get a review from the New York Time, which said, "Little Boy Blue is so powerfully acted by Mr. Savage and Mr. Phillippe that you want to accept a plot that, as it develops, seems increasingly farfetched and ultimately preposterous."


The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. The money boys realized it was unmarketable, so the film received only a perfunctory theatrical release, grossing a whopping $12,000
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C-.

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