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Disney's The Kid

Rated [PG], 101 minutes
Starring Bruce Willis, Spencer Breslin, Emily Mortimer, Lily Tomlin and Jean Smart
Screenplay by Audrey Wells
Directed by Jon Turteltaub

IN SHORT: Feh. Low rent family flick if you're paired or under 30.

Welcome to modern day Los Angeles, a city oblivious to the terror being inflicted upon it by a World War I era red biplane buzzing the high priced luxury cars owned by high priced and extraordinarily powerful image consultant Russ Duritz (Bruce Willis). Duritz is a powerful man with powerful clients -- good guy sports celebrities and lying, stinking baseball team owners, corrupt politicians and other related high income scum. But one day, behind the high security gates of his multimillion dollar -- and very empty -- home in the Hills, an intruder is found and caught. It is an eight year old boy named Rusty (Spencer Breslin), pudgy and remarkably scarred and birthmarked in the same places as the grownup Russ. Yes, it's a heavy duty dose of Disney fantastical magic to jumpstart a preposterous story -- hell, where's Tinkerbelle and her wand when you really need something magical done? -- in which the kidlet aids his adult Self in uncovering just where in the past his life went wrong. Once uncovered, all can be set right and the bulldozers can forcibly trowel all the sentimental goop they can manage over a story so off the mark, it could only have been written by a woman.

Before you go flying to your eMail program, hear me out. Willis' character is three or four days shy of his 40th birthday, the most traumatic event in an man's life, well once you get past 30, if he hits it single, straight and so immersed in work that he does not have a successful emotional relationship at hand. The kidlet Rusty sums it up perfectly: "No wife. No family. No dog. I grow up to be a loser!" The adult Russ has a better answer -- he's having hallucinations which require heavy duty medication from a recommended shrink (Dana Ivey). Four pills taken at the same time doesn't make the kid disappear and leaves Russ none the worse for the wear, a sure indicator that screenwriter Audrey Wells, who so plumbed the depths of the femme bioclock ticking The Truth About Cats and Dogs, has never overmedicated on tranqs in her life, nor done the research on those of us who have. Three pills and the character would've been unconscious, or at minimum semi-concious and slurry -- fit for sitcom type humor. But reality would get in the way of neglecting to feed the kid, who is an adorable li'l coot, and that would get in the way of introducing the kid to Amy (Emily Mortimer), an employee who comes as close to flat out saying she's interested in Russ without actually saying it. He, of course, is too dense to understand that true love is waiting just a breath away. The younger he, also of course, sets it all straight but you see that coming miles before it happens.

What you don't see is how the kidlet got thrown thirty years into the future. Or vice versa when it happens. When "the magic" is laid out for all to see, it still makes no sense. Then again, Disney fantasies rarely do, and this ranks among the worst of the lot.

What's wrong with this picture that Cranky risks the wrath of his female readership? Reality, that's what. It takes one single, straight, 40 year old miserable cripple (me) to recognize the intrinsic flaw in Wells' script. The problem with Willis' life isn't what happened when he was eight. All of us losers, in those quiet moments in our oversized homes that demonstrate to the world how successful we are, spend hours picking through the debris of our lives figuring out where the hell it all went wrong. Willis wouldn't be telling the kid the problem is forgotten in childhood -- not to say there isn't a problem there, but -- he'd be instructing the kid "OK you're going to meet a woman named Julie. Marry her. It's going to be your only chance . . ." and so on. There may be a couple of other specific instructions, I could give my kidlet four or five, but none of this kind of thinking has occurred to any 40 year old straight and single woman that I know. That's why its not in the script. That's why this flick is fine for anyone not even close to the decrepitude of the fourth decade -- "it gives you some things to think about" said the Gen X dude waiting behind me in the bathroom afterwards.

Trust this miserable 40 year old. We've been doing that thinking for at least ten years. Besides Breslin, who does steal the show, notable supporting roles go to Lily Tomlin as Willis' assistant and teevee's Jean Smart (who also delivered one of the few outstanding in Audrey Wells' directing debut Guinevere, which you can rent)

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Disney's The Kid, he would have paid...


There's no problem lugging the kids if you've got no place else to go this summer. Disney's The Kid (the title is to differentiate this movie from Charlie Chaplin's The Kid, which this is not a remake of) will find a better home when it dubs to video

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