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Film Review - Fat Man and Little Boy
For over 50 years people have been arguing over whether or not the United States should have dropped the atomic bomb on Japan to end World War II. But little has been said about the creation of the bomb.
Fat Man and Little Boy is a great telling of a great story. The atomic bomb was a theoretical possibility for years, but no one was given the incredible budget (2 billion 1940 dollars) to build one until the United States and Germany both attempted it during the war. In the picture, Gen. Leslie Groves (Paul Newman), the builder of the Pentagon, is told he will not be allowed to go to combat. Instead he is given something new to build, something so secret he would impose levels of security so high they threaten to keep the scientists involved from succeeding because they couldn't talk to each other.
Groves was going to build the most important weapon of all time. To do so, he would build an army of scientists, many of whom fled Hitler's Germany, led by J. Robert Oppenheimer (Dwight Schultz). Oppenheimer is brilliant but he has a checkered past. He is suspected of being a communist.
Fat Man and Little Boy is both detailed and personal. The scientists are struggling to solve how to bring enough fissionable material together to make a critical mass. Groves is wrestling with his schedule and budget. And many struggle with the morality of using the bomb.
John Cusack gives a memorable performance as a young scientist working on the explosives. He becomes a casualty of the building of the bomb. His sub-plot drives home that everything about the Manhattan Project was personal, and that's the strength of this film.
Directed by Roland Joffe
Released in 1989
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Reviewed by Mongo