Little Boy Blue
As a young married couple with a baby Julie (Cybill Shepherd - The Lady Vanishes) and Gregg (John Heard - Home Alone 2) didn't have much but one night their world is ripped apart when whilst Julie is having a bath someone sneaks into their home and steals their baby from his cot. 15 years later and whilst having gone through plenty of difficult times they are finally moving on, financially secure with a nice home and a new baby on the way although Gregg still longs to find his long lost baby son. So when they find a religious medallion in the old cot it leads them on a trail to try and find who stole their baby. Meanwhile Julie finds herself giving Jesse (Scott Bairstow - Android Apocalypse) the new kid in school with lots of attitude extra lessons as he doesn't work well in class.
"There Was a Little Boy" could have been a truly fantastic movie in fact it comes very close to being something very special but something prevents it, something which I will get to later. But let's start with the opening, a nicely atmospheric opening which sets up Julie's guilt as she is in the bath and hears the baby crying but slides under the water to ignore it just for a few minutes peace unaware the crying is because of a stranger taking him. Yes there are some significant conveniences in that opening scene, when Gregg rushes out of the building he accidentally leaves the door open and just by chance the kindapper's necklace falls into the crib but it is a solid opening. In fact the drama through out is solid with a good array of dramatic moments including a fight at school which spills over into the street.
And then after we jump 15 years it does a good job of building on how Julie and Gregg were affected by the loss of their son especially Gregg who can't fully let go, holding on to the babies stuff and still hoping to find him one day. It allows for both Cybill Shepherd and John Heard to explore their characters and allow them to delve into not just the way they individually deal with the situation but also the conflict between them. And on the subject of acting Scott Bairstow is impressive as Jesse, delivering the toughness of a kid who has grown up in the ghetto without a father to keep him on the straight and narrow. It is the acting more than anything which makes "There Was a Little Boy" worth watching.
But as I said "There Was a Little Boy" could have been fantastic but it isn't and that is because of the obviousness of the script. I suppose technically I should say spoiler alert but it doesn't take a genius to see that the troublesome Jesse is in fact Julie and Gregg's son and so it becomes a matter of waiting for the pieces to fall into place. Now in fairness it avoids plenty of the usual cliches such as the bonds between a mother and child but still it is a movie where you are kept waiting a long time for what is inevitable.
What this all boils down to is that "There Was a Little Boy" is a good movie with some good performances and good drama. But it suffers because it is plainly obvious what is going on yet draws it out much longer than is needed.