Fat Man and Little Boy (1989) - Rotten Tomatoes

Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

This historically-based film recounts the creation of the first atomic bomb and the people who played a vital role in its development during World War II. Revolving around the relationship between General Leslie Groves (Paul Newman), the military man in charge of the Manhattan Project, and scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer (Dwight Schultz), the story is marked with conflict and resolution as the two try to work together to reach a common goal.
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In Theaters:
Paramount Home Video

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Paul Newman
as Gen. Leslie R. Groves
Dwight Schultz
as J. Robert Oppenheimer
Bonnie Bedelia
as Kitty Oppenheimer
John Cusack
as Michael Merriman
Laura Dern
as Kathleen Robinson
Ron Frazier
as Peer de Silva
John C. McGinley
as Richard Schoenfield
Natasha Richardson
as Jean Tatlock
Ron Vawter
as Jamie Latrobe
Michael Brockman
as William `Deke' Parsons
Del Close
as Dr. Kenneth Whiteside
John Considine
as Robert Tuckson
Alan Corduner
as Franz Goethe
Joseph D'Angerio
as Seth Neddermeyer
Jon De Vries
as Johnny Mount
James Eckhouse
as Norbert Harper
Todd Field
as Robert Wilson
Mary Pat Gleason
as Dora Welsh
Clark Gregg
as Douglas Panton
Peter Halasz
as George Kistiakowsky
Gerald Hiken
as Leo Szilard
Arthur Holden
as Oakridge Doctor
Ed Lauter
as Whitney Ashbridge
Donald Mackechnie
as James Tuck
Madison Mason
as Boris Pash
Don Pugsley
as Bronson
Logan Ramsey
as Gen. Brehon Somervell
Fred Dalton Thompson
as Melrose Hayden Barry
Jim True-Frost
as Donald Hornig
Barry Yourgrau
as Edward Teller
Steven Baigelman
as Dr. Avenell
David Brainard
as Samuel Allison
Roger Cubicciotti
as Frank Oppenheimer
Franco Cutietta
as Enrico Fermi
Robert Peter Gale
as Dr. Louis Hempelmann
David C. Parnes
as Raincoat Man
Allen Poirson
as Howard McDonald
David Politzer
as Robert Serber
Bill Rubenstein
as Times Reporter
Ken Strausbaugh
as Observation Officer
Walter Sullivan
as Henry Stimson
Brian Wandell
as Dennis Talmudge
John Williams (II)
as Mack Stoddard
Matthew Faison
as (voice)
Stanley Jones
as (voice)
Ronald C. Frazier
as Peer de Silva
Wesley Harrison
as Peter Oppenheimer
Brent Harrison
as Peter Oppenheimer
Marek Alboszta
as Scientist
Tom McFarlane
as Scientist
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Critic Reviews for Fat Man and Little Boy

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (3)

[Fat Man] is not resoundingly disastrous. That would imply a certain energy.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Fat Man and Little Boy is a fiction based on the Manhattan Project, but it is thin and unfocused and hardly even suggests the enormous moral and practical questions that the scientists wrestled with in the New Mexico desert.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

A singular, powerful experience.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

A boring film that fails to transcend from its basic idea, remaining as a story without too much tell about that small group, and how it affects their work to their respective personal lives. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review… | November 23, 2016
Blog de cine

Disappointing biopic about A-bomb creation

November 7, 2003
Lawrence Journal-World

Serious film about the ethics of the men who ushered America into the nuclear age.

Full Review… | July 15, 2003
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Fat Man and Little Boy


To sum this film up: Nothing happens for two hours and then they blow up the Bomb. There was so much drama that could be milked from the Manhattan Project, but we end up learning nothing about the actual development of the bomb or even any character insights. Things just happen. What a waste. Manhattan may be over the top in making everything a zero sum game, but at least it gives us a reason to care about these people.

Stuart McCunn
Stuart McCunn

I'm not good at fairy tales, little boy, so just give me the happy ending. General Leslie Groves is in charge of the Manhattan project in nowhere New Mexico. A group of soldiers are in the process of building the first atomic bomb; however, some soldiers are reluctant to finish the project because of the mass destruction their efforts may lead to. General Leslie doesn't care about their feelings, he cares about getting the job done. Who will win, the emotional soldiers or the unrelenting general? "Doesn't that make him an unnecessary risk?" "No, failure is an unnecessary risk." Roland Joffe, director of The Killing Fields, The Mission, The Scarlett Letter, Captivity, Vatel, City of Joy, Goodbye Lover, and the upcoming Singularity (Josh Hartnet), delivers Fat Man and Little Boy. The storyline for this picture is just okay but the characters are fairly interesting. The settings are perfect for the film and the actors deliver solid performances. The cast is impressive and includes Paul Newman, John Cusack, Laura Dern, Natasha Richardson, Bonnie Bedelia, and Dwight Shultz. "She's a known communist." I DVR'd this picture because it starred the infamous Paul Newman (that, and I had never seen this). I was pleasantly surprised this also starred John Cusack (I had no idea going in). Overall, I found this film better than average but a bit stale and boring at times. I would consider this a must see for Newman and Cusack fans, but I definitely would not add this to your DVD collection. You'll likely only watch it once. "Everybody should make it but me. I'm dead." Grade: C+/B- (6.5)

Kevin Robbins
Kevin Robbins

Its an amateurish disaster.There is no focus and any serious moral posturing that could have been put worth is ruined by oversimplifying the questions and the answers.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

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