The poster alone makes me want to throw up all over Bruce Willis. I don’t normally dig New Age-y feel good movies about grown men who find their inner kid and other such bullshit that only upper middle class white people seem to obsess over. When The Kid first came out in theaters, some friends of mine went to see it and they absolutely loved it. I immediately dismissed their opinions of the film because they tend to like the just described New Age-y crap so I don’t usually trust their judgment when it comes to movies. Being a Disney family movie made it even more unlikely that I would care to see this film. So what all that said, fast forward 10 years later to 2010. For reasons unknown, I went against every impulse in my body and decided to see The Kid. Not to belabor the point, but this is the kind of movie that I would normally shred into and I would enjoy every minute of doing so. However, to my shock, The Kid ended up being a rather pleasant experience.

I’m a little afraid to give a synopsis of The Kid because if I’ve managed to convince anyone in the above paragraph that the movie is not as bad as you think it is, you will surely get turned off once you read the synopsis. The story is about an image consultant named Russ (Bruce Willis) who essentially remolds his wealthy clients to make them look good in the public spotlight. Russ is single, friendless, girlfriend-less, and a total asshole. One night Russ discovers an 8-year old boy (Spencer Breslin) in his living room watching cartoons. At first thinking he’s an intruder, Russ instead discovers to his astonishment that its literally his younger self. Not knowing how the hell this happened, older and younger Russ set out to figure out how to get the younger Russ back to his time period.

Child actors are typically not very good actors. They are hired because they look cute, they can take direction, and their parents don’t mind if their children eventually grow up to be crack addicts. Every once in a blue moon, a child actor comes along that blows you away and makes you wonder how in hell someone so young could act so realistically. Anna Paquin and Haley Joel Osment immediately come to mind as exceptionally talented young stars. Although comedy, especially a family comedy, doesn’t quite earn the same respect as drama does, there is no doubt that Spencer Breslin does an outstanding job. This movie would have fallen apart if it weren’t for his performance and that’s saying a lot considering that he’s not the big star being marketed by the studio. Breslin doesn’t merely deliver his lines and emote in 1 of 3 exaggerated ways. You can tell that he truly understands his character’s motivations and he plays the character in a believable way that feels real and authentic.

As for Bruce Willis, he does his normal thing here. There’s nothing he does here that stands out from all his other performances. Willis has a trademark schtick that brings audiences to see his movies. He will probably never win an Academy Award for acting, but I don’t think he really cares about that. Even though I consider his acting to be the most nondistinct, vanilla style of performance, Willis does what he does because it makes him money. Although, one thing I did find refreshing here was seeing him do comedy, which is something he’s veered away from for the most part. I think he’s a great comedy actor (see Die Hard for proof) and he has some great moments in this movie. This may also say something about my view on life, but I honestly found nothing wrong with Willis’ character’s personality or his lifestyle. The film clearly has an issue with a single guy who’s married to his work and who’s not warm and fuzzy towards others. The movie’s message is basically that if you’re not married, have kids, and a dog by the time you’re 40, then you’re a loser. I disagree. So if you don’t fit conventional notions of an American lifestyle, your life is worthless? I wouldn’t expect a Disney family movie to advocate otherwise, but I am disappointed nonetheless that the studio takes such a mainstream attitude in its entertainment.

For one who regards good storytelling as THE most essential element of a successful movie, I even surprised myself for not minding the massive plotholes and nonsensical narrative elements of The Kid. The movie doesn’t even try to tell an even remotely logical story. It completely relies on the strength of its characters and the bond that develops between them. For once, I was ok with this and that’s all thanks to Spencer Breslin’s performance. A mysterious red plane appears out of nowhere throughout the movie? No problem. All the characters seem to take it in astonishing stride when they’re told by Bruce Willis that the kid is literally his younger self? No problem. I suppose that if the movie actually tried to tell a plausible story and it failed, I would probably be much more annoyed.

So there you go. The Kid ends up being a guilty pleasure of a surprise, which is something that of late rarely happens if ever. I won’t recommend the film because most of my readers (at least the ones I know of) hate these types of movies and I wouldn’t want to risk my credibility with them by recommending this to them. I enjoyed this film for the very reasons that I should NOT have enjoyed it in the first place….but I did.

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