|Disney's The Kid (2000)|
|Nobody ever grows up quite like they imagined.|
Directed by Jon Turteltaub
On the verge of his 40th birthday Russ Durtiz (Bruce Willis), a personal image consultant with an attitude, is confronted by a mysterious 8 years old boy Rusty who turns out to be his younger self. Brought together through some mysterious time warp the duo try to get the young Rusty back to his own time, while elder Russ is forced to come to terms with memories of his childhood.
Disney's The Kid is a movie with an interesting premise that never quit realizes its potential. From the opening credits the movie feels too earnest, with an annoyingly upbeat score that tries to heighten the mood, but only serves to overshadow the story and highlight the other shortcomings of the movie.
Wildly uneven at times, the film tries to be a comedy yet never seems to hit the mark. Director Jon Turteltaub is largely to blame as he fails to rein in Willis, whose over the top performance as the manic Russ Durtiz manages to destroy any mood established by the story or the other actors. Lily Tomlin as Russ' assistant Janet and Spencer Breslin as the young Rusty manage to bring some dignity to the project in their performances, but it can't save this mess.
The script falls prey to the Hollywood formula of trying to invent a romantic interest where none exists as Russ (Bruce Willis) is paired with his younger business partner Amy (Emily Mortimer). This pairing, while serving to create comedic situations for the younger Rusty to exploit, does little to enhance the story.
The story worked best for me when the tone was reflective and more subdued. The scenes where Russ tries to come to terms with painful memories of his childhood are touching at times and the reaction of the younger Rusty when he realizes that he's grown up to be a loser hit the mark. At the heart of Disney's The Kid is a universal theme that we can all relate too, that we seldom end up where we imagine as young children.
The time warp that brings the younger Rusty and the elder Russ together is largely left unexplored during the course of the movie, only hinted at with the mysterious appearance of a red biplane at key moments in the film. While I was able to accept the use of time travel as a thematic device to contrast the two periods in Russ' life, I never felt as if I could suspend my disbelief. It was as if by shying away from mentioning the time travel I felt that I was being asked not to look at the man behind the curtain. In other words, instead of helping me to accept the premise, it had the opposite effect drawing my attention to it. In time travel literature there are countless examples where the main character is transported in time and the explanation is a simple knock on the head (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court) or a lightning storm (Lest Darkness Fall), which never detracts from the story since the stories are not about Time Travel but rather the situation that arises from it. By getting the mechanics of the time travel out of the way and not dwelling on it, allows the reader/viewer to accept the premise and get into the story itself. Disney's the Kid chooses instead to hold back on the "mystery" of the time travel until very late in the movie and ultimately detracting from the other themes that it touches on.
In the end the movie is largely about looking at life from different perspectives. On the one hand there is the older Russ' view of his childhood from an adult perspective, remembering the painful memories and trying to distance himself from what he once was. While the younger Rusty's view of adulthood from his child's perspective is one of unlimited potential and dreams of the promise of adulthood. Their attempt to find some common understanding is what drives the movie and makes some of it bearable.
Speaking of different perspectives that come with age, I can only wonder what my younger self would have made of this movie? Perhaps a less cynical, younger Andy would have said "awesome!".
Review Posted 2002-02-01
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