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The Kid

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Kid

Starring: Bruce Willis, Spencer Breslin
Director: John Turtletaub
Rated: PG
RunTime: 101 Minutes
Release Date: July 2000
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Nick Chinlund, Lily Tomlin, Emily Mortimer, Jean Smart, Steve Tom, Chi McBride, Richard Jenkins, Jeri Ryan

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

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 concludes.

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 particularly successful.

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 eyes.

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

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