Disney's The Kid

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Review byMatthew Turner21/11/2000

Three out of five stars
Running time: 104 mins

Surprisingly enjoyable Disney comedy starring Bruce Willis and Yet Another Child Actor.

Bruce Willis plays Russ Duritz, a successful but mean-spirited image consultant who won't let anyone get close to him. On the eve of his 40th birthday, in one of those 'Only In The Movies-type' deals, he is suddenly confronted by his eight year-old self, Rusty‚ (Spencer Breslin), a chubby, dorky kid who, in turn, is gutted to discover that at 40 he's, "not married, doesn't fly jet planes and doesn't even have a dog!"

When Russ finds out that Rusty isn't, in fact, a hallucination, the two of them gradually realise they have some lessons to learn from each other.

This is Willis' third teaming with a child actor, following Mercury Rising, and the phenomenal success of The Sixth Sense. Obviously someone in Hollywood has got it into their head that "Willis plus Cute Kid equals Big Box Office Bucks". Thankfully, The Kid (awkwardly renamed Disney's The Kid, presumably to avoid confusion with the Chaplin classic) is actually a surprisingly enjoyable film, although there's nothing here to keep the under-fives amused, as visual gags are kept to a minimum.

Where the film succeeds is in the casting: Willis proves adept at comedy (and is a lot better here than he was in the disappointing The Whole Nine Yards) and he is ably supported by the always-reliable Lily Tomlin as his long-suffering secretary, and by British actress Emily Mortimer as his love interest (though this is a far better 'girlfriend' role than most).

Ultimately though, a film like this stands or falls on the performance of the child actor, and happily Spencer Breslin isn't the blonde uber-moppet you might expect. In fact he's an awkward and chubby misfit, and it's easy to understand Russ' initial embarrassment, and why he'd always tried to block out his childhood memories.

Naturally, there are no surprises in how it all works out. This is formulaic feel-good fare all the way, but something about it still feels fresh. It loses the plot a bit towards the end, but you come out of the cinema with a smile on your face and that‚s the main thing.

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Content updated: 19/08/2019 00:50

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