Movie Review By Monica Sullivan
Since "The Sixth Sense" & "The Kid," a born-again human being has replaced the sullen, surly Bruce Willis who used to be dragged into promotional interview chores as if he were about to face a firing squad. Now he politely explains to cub reporters how he wants to make movies that his kids can see. Yes, kids can see "The Kid": what kid wouldn't dig the chance to yell at a grownup without fear of any sort of reprisal? Spencer Breslin is Rusty Duritz, nearly eight years old, who somehow finds himself facing Bruce Willis as Russ Duritz, pushing forty in the year 2000.
Rusty is deeply disgusted with Russ & Russ can scarcely bear to look at his chubby younger self. The thing is, people seem to like little Rusty with all his flaws & no one can stand Russ. Lily Tomlin as Russ' assistant Janet is like Eve Arden at her zenith, sweet & concerned with Rusty, tough & sarcastic with Russ. Emily ("Scream 3") Mortimer as Amy is charmed & delighted by Rusty & suffering from long-term disappointment with Russ. There is hope, they think, for the kid, none at all for the uptight adult. Audrey Wells has come up with a screenplay that could be a minefield of cloying cuteness, but sidesteps it by making the stakes for each character so real. Russ is shattered by childhood traumas he can't recall. Rusty is sick of daily beatings by classroom bullies & appalled at the idea that he may spend his whole life as a loser.
Jon Turteltaub directs with the insight that behind every great comedy, there is deep tragedy waiting for something, anything to revise it. In "The Kid," the tranformation device is sheer magic, but otherwise it operates along the same reliable principles as Chaplin's "Kid" or Herb Gardner's "Thousand Clowns." For that reason, grownups can sit through "The Kid," although not necessarily with THEIR kids, since each age group will appreciate it for entirely different reasons. Scientific questions sprinkle the script, but I found myself asking one for which I may not ever receive an answer. How come Emily Mortimer's eyes don't seem to have any irises?
© 2000 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 7/12/00
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