Thursday, April 11, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—The Kid (2000) ***

PG, 104 min.
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Writer: Audrey Wells
Starring: Bruce Willis, Spencer Breslin, Emily Mortimer, Lily Tomlin, Jean Smart, Chi McBride

Disney’s “The Kid” is a charming little movie that comes as an anomaly in the career of perennial action star Bruce Willis. It’s the rare touchy feely movie in Willis’ high profile career. It’s Disney touchy feely, though, so it connects on a kid level rather than a more serious adult one. However, watching it for the first time since it’s theatrical release in 2000, I was struck how it seemed to be made more from an adult perspective than from a kid’s.

It tells the often-told tale of a career man who devotes so much of his life to his job that he’s forgotten what living a full life is like. He’s surrounded by well-rounded female influences—the ever-adorable Emily Mortimer plays his co-worker and sometimes flirtation and Lily Tomlin plays his secretary. I love Lily Tomlin. That should probably be said in every review for a film in which she appears.

Willis is a professional image consultant; the type of service celebrities once needed to preserve their public image until reality TV created the celebrity that exists off of destroying their public image. He’s great at reading how people are perceived and what is necessary to change that perception. He’s not so great at perceiving what a jerk he is. That’s why he’s magically visited by his 10-year-old self in the form of a then unknown Spencer Breslin. I’ll admit it; that kid was pretty cute at that age.

Anyway, Disney really doesn’t do much to explain the “magic” of this time transportation device, which is just as well. It leaves the storytelling to the actors, who all provide admirable performances, not the least of which is the acting of Willis. Yes, he still carries most of his acting work along with that smirk of his, but he’s a good choice not to go over the top with the situation. His character is a man that keeps his life in a very ordered manner, which contrasts greatly with the idea of having not only a kid around, but also a former self that he’s really quite ashamed of. This isn’t “Twelve Monkeys” or “Pulp Fiction”, but it is some good wholesome fun. Didn’t that used to be more prevalent in Hollywood movies?

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