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First Kid

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: First Kid

Starring: Sinbad, Brock Pierce
Director: David Mickey Evans
Rated: PG
RunTime: 93 Minutes
Release Date: August 1996
Genres: Comedy, Family, Kids

*Also starring: Blake Boyd, Timothy Busfield, Art LaFleur, Robert Guillaume, James Naughton, Lisa Eichhorn, Fawn Reed, Erin Williby

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

From the writer (Tim Kelleher) who is bringing the controversial CD-ROM game LEISURE SUIT LARRY to the big screen, we have a movie about the FIRST KID, a. k. a., the son of the president. I found the trailers for the movie pretty lame so I was not looking forward to seeing the film. My son, Jeffrey (age 7), on the other hand, thought the trailers were a hoot and kept asking when it was going to start so we saw it on opening day.

Although most of the jokes fall flat, FIRST KID is not without its charms. In fact, as the movie developed I begin to like parts of it, most especially the acting by Sinbad as the First Kid's Secret Service Agent known formally as Agent Sam Simms and informally as Agent Double O Simms. The quality of the script is quite low, but Sinbad played the character with great panache as if he had just been given the best role of the year. It is so refreshing to see actors try so hard. Too often, see Val Kilmer in THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU for example, actors just brood and seem angry that the director expects them to do more than just show up on the set.

As the story starts, First Lady Linda Davenport (Lisa Eichhorn) and 13-year-old First Kid Luke Davenport (Brock Pierce from THE MIGHTY DUCKS series) are making their annual shopping trip to the mall to demonstrate to America that they are average working stiffs like everyone else. The First Lady even remarks to the reporters how she is essentially a working woman. Like all of us working stiffs, the family arrives in a long limousine with a phalanx of bodyguards. The First Kid hates his life and moons the herd of reporters that follow them in the mall.

The First Lady does not like the way Agent Woods (Timothy Busfield from "thirtysomething") touches her son so she demands a new agent for her son's protection. Always in trouble Agent Simms is assigned to the kid. He becomes Luke's friend by helping him escape frequently from The White House.

In an absolutely predictable show, Simms warns Luke when he is surfing the net that, "Just be careful out there in Cyberspace. Don't tell them anything." This of course, serves to scare overly cautious parents that The Net is the enemy. Personally, I'd worry more in the parking lot when I leave the theater.

I have some problems with the appropriateness of parts of script. One of the early jokes, albeit one aimed at the adults, has Simms telling the bartender, "I'll have a Harvey Wall-Banger." Agent Woods one ups him with, "I'll have a Harvey Oswald." Confused, Simms asks, "What's the difference?" Agent Woods gives him a devious smile retorting, "Oswald has three shots." Remember, these are agents sworn to guard the lives of the President and his family. Actually, the joke is nothing more than a plot device so the writer can telegraph the ending.

Brock Pierce starts off giving nothing to the role of First Kid, and even by the end, he warms up maybe to mediocrity. Even worse is James Naughton as the president. He is terribly miscast. He looks and acts like, well, a mayor of a small town - one who spends his days selling insurance. Never, is he believable as a president of anything more than the local Elks Club.

Soon the First Son goes to school and the local bully, Rob (Zachery Ty Bryan), taunts him with "I knew it. A wus just like his dad, the draft dodger." They get into a fist fight where Luke gets a busted and bloody lip while Agent Simms just watches. Sure.

The script tries to get us feeling sorry for Luke since he has no friends. Simms approach is to teach the kid boxing at a gym so he can beat up the bully. Again, back to my concern about some of the messages of the show. Nevertheless, there are some funny scenes at the gym and elsewhere.

The three best scenes in the show are the one where Luke asks a girl to a dance, where Simms shoots an extra large spitball in class at the bully, and where President Clinton calls on the videophone to ask President Davenport to look for his lost saxophone. My favorite minor character is Luke's girlfriend Katie (Erin Williby). She is sweet and innocent, and she charms every scene she is in. An impressive screen presence for such a minor part.

Finally, I feel a warning is necessary about the ending. Given how innocuous most of the film is, I was kind of shocked by the ending. We have a child kidnapping scene complete with real guns, a very scared child, slightly bloody violence, a realistic shoot-out, and a man apparently and realistically shot dead. If your kids worry about being abducted, this could push them over the edge. Now, Jeffrey was not scared, but I bet many kids, especially younger ones, are and some could be very frightened.

FIRST KID runs too long at 1:41. Editing out of the slow parts by editor Harry Keramidas would have helped a lot. The film is rated PG. The language is pretty mild, and there is no sex or nudity, but note the previous warnings about the violence. Jeffrey gives it three thumbs up. Although I laughed some, there is not enough there for me to be able to recommend it. No matter how much energy Sinbad threw into his role, director David M. Evans could not get much out of the other actors so I can only give it * 1/2.

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes

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