In DISNEY'S THE KID, Russ Duritz (Bruce Willis) is a control freak who
doesn't abide any troubles in his life. With an assistant, Janet,
played in full scene-stealing mode by Lily Tomlin, who is ready to try
to turn the power off on Atlanta if need be, Russ never lets problems
get near him. He also keeps love, in the form of a warm and beautiful
girlfriend, Amy (Emily Mortimer), at arm's length.
One day into his rigid world comes a pair of hallucinations. The first
involves a guy in a shiny red biplane who keeps swooping about. The
other, and the more troubling, is an 8-year-old named Rusty (Spencer
Breslin), who starts hanging around Russ's lavish home.
A very uptight image consultant, Russ surrounds himself with material
possessions from $2,000 suits to sleek sports cars. He's a cynical
human being who thinks he can manipulate opinion at will -- after all
that's what he does for a living and he's the best at it.
His past is an embarrassment to him and something which he never thinks
about. When his dad asks for personal help in packing, he sends a check
to hire movers instead.
Russ's carefully orchestrated life is torn apart when he learns that
Rusty is himself at age 8. Although Russ is supremely proud of his
conspicuous accomplishments, Rusty isn't so pleased to learn how his
life has turned out. "No dog!" Rusty wails. "No dog! I grow up to be
guy with no dog!" Rusty is also disappointed to learn that he isn't
married and doesn't fly jets as he planned. "I'm a loser!" Rusty
Russ, on the other hand, remembers what a pudgy, clumsy, whimpering
child he was and is not pleased either. When he tries to teach himself
(as a kid) a thing or two, the results are hilarious, albeit not
The chemistry between the two actors is delightful. Physically they
look like such an odd pairing that their relationship will never work,
but it does beautifully. The kid holds his own against a famous star
and gives as much as he gets. You can see the mutual respect in their
The script by Audrey Wells (THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS AND DOGS) is funny
without ever being insulting or patronizing. Avoiding slapstick almost
entirely, the script is remarkably intelligent and sharp.
The story, which is at once sweet and serious, turns into a journey of
exploration for Russ, and it's a trip that he has avoided all of his
life. "When I look at him, I see awful memories," Russ tells Amy about
Rusty. "Memories that I've spent my life trying to forget." The kid is
obviously there for a purpose. But what exactly? The poor kid, on the
other hand, just wants to get home and out of all this time traveling.
The conclusion wraps things up well and without ever trying to become
FREQUENCY 2. DISNEY'S THE KID is a unique little movie with a big
heart. You'll laugh, you might even cry, and your heart will be touched
-- something that probably isn't the least bit obvious from the
saccharine and sort of silly trailers for the picture. A satisfying
movie, it is wonderful family entertainment as well, although very young
viewers may get very fidgety as the ones did at our screening. But for
the older kids and the adults, the movie has a lot to offer.
DISNEY'S THE KID runs 1:41. It is rated PG for mild language and has
nothing to offend any one of any age.
My son Jeffrey, age 11, was there with several of his classmates of the
same age. He found the film funny, cute and really sweet and gave it a
full ****. Johanna, who also gave it ****, was bursting with positive
adjectives, ranging from fantastic to hilarious. Maxim thought it was
funny and gave it ***. The odd man out was Alan, who gave it just one
*, calling it really stupid and dumb.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes