Willis's 'The Kid' Not Up to Par With Chaplin's VersionDisney movies may seem a little dry to moviegoers grown accustomed to graphic violence, gratuitous nudity and colorful expletives. Not that you necessarily need these things to make a good picture, mind you. My mother adores most Disney movies and downright loves it when she watches one that allows her to browbeat me, "SEE, you don't need all that trash that they put in today's movies to enjoy yourself... when I was a little girl we had Shirley Temple and..." blah, blah, blah, as if I am the culprit for movie producers' lack of respect for my mother's tastes.
While it pains me deeply to go against my dear mother's opinion, I am afraid she will also dislike the fact that I found "that nice Mr. Bruce Willis's movie," so-so, because by her account any PG-rated Disney movie is a family movie and thus, a classic. So I must apologize in advance, for even though "The Kid" gives getting in touch with your inner child a whole new meaning, it seems that this "family" movie is targeted neither towards adults nor children and, more or less, falls uncomfortably somewhere in between. Don't expect the kind of comic genius shown in Charlie Chaplin's "The Kid" (1921).
Bruce Willis plays wealthy image consultant Russell Duritz, a complete cad who lambastes strangers, clients and his secretary (Lily Tomlin) with bitingly sarcastic insults and commands. His estranged relationship with his father seems indicative of Russ's cold heart and suggests a deep unhappiness beneath his cutthroat exterior.
One day, a little boy (Spencer Breslin) mysteriously appears at Russ's house, and he later discovers that the child is actually himself at the age of 8. The sudden emergence of his former "loser" self reminds him of his lonely childhood, in which he was unpopular and picked on. Russ then comes to the conclusion that the "little Rusty" of the past has been brought into the future so that as an adult he can impart words of wisdom to the troubled child. Rusty, on the other hand, feels that Russ (the man he grows up to be) is the one in need of help and is shocked to see that Russ has no pet dog, doesn't fly planes for a living and lives alone. It's not too much of a stretch to see that in the end they will help each other; Russ gives Rusty much needed confidence and friendship, and Rusty reminds Russ of the things that were once important to him.
Spencer Breslin is undeniably one of the cutest munchkins on the big screen right now. Though all of his overly cute one-liners and comical waddling back and forth attempt to appeal to a young audience, this movie is otherwise too boring and difficult for the little ones to understand. In addition, the aspects of this movie that cater to the younger audience will leave adults squirming. All too familiar scenes that bring this movie down are the typical punch-in-the-groin bit and playground fight scene in which the underdog is victorious. Even the more original scenes came off being just as pretentious, such as when Rusty, the child, proposes to Amy. Hard as it was to watch these scenes, the annoying blaring of background music made it worse.
The dialogue between Breslin and Willis was too fake to allow for any chemistry similar to what you saw between Willis and Haley Joel Osment in "The Sixth Sense." But Willis never fails to delight as a wise-guy with a deadpan delivery of cocky lines. You could even go so far as to say that Willis had an epiphany in a truly endearing scene in which he comforts Rusty. To this date, Bruce Willis has rarely exhibited such powerful emotions as in this film, and you will lament that the script didn't allow for more development of this virtual breakthrough in his acting. But still, for all its faults, I found myself laughing outright at times when I wasn't cringing from the sappiness of this film.
by Joseph Kim