Disney's The Kid

on July 07, 2000 by Christine James
The family-friendly implication of this comedy's prefix imprimatur also serves as a warning as to the target audience: "Disney's The Kid" doesn't strive very hard to engage anyone older than the film's titular eight-year-old protagonist. As for insights into the universal angst of failing to fulfill the aspirations of youth, they're nigh lost in favor of groin-kick gags and superficial storytelling.

   Having apparently just come off a Richard Bach read-a-thon, scripter Audrey Wells clumsily fashions a not-so-super-natural scenario in which Russ, a brusque, high-powered 40-year-old image consultant with questionable ethics (Bruce Willis), encounters his chubby, unpopular eight-year-old self (Spencer Breslin) in a paradoxic breech of time apparently orchestrated by a higher power inexplicably fixated on the emotional well-being of this self-absorbed spin doctor. Russ is confronted with his geeky, guileless, undisciplined past persona whom he's tried hard to forget, while Rusty is appalled that instead of being the dog-loving adventurous aviator he imagined, his future self is a hard, selfish, materialistic jerk.

   Russ and Rusty's mirrored mannerisms and idiosyncrasies (including synchronous bladder capacities) are supposed to hilariously convey the semblances both refuse to acknowledge, but these overly-familiar tactics are contrived and lazy. Yet a few similar affectations are all it takes to convince Russ' unlikely business associate and loopy love interest (Emily Mortimer) that the two are father and son, even though they are physically and personality-wise nothing alike; nevertheless, the evidence of some identical gesticulations is compelling enough that she quickly embraces the paranormal explanation with which they reluctantly supply her.

   Upon accepting that he hasn't lost his mind, Russ obtusely thinks the point of the fourth-dimensional reunion is for him to whip Rusty into shape, though it is a surprise to no one else when toward the end of the movie he realizes it's his current incarnation that needs a makeover. Each learns from the other, but both are so obnoxiously repellant it's a case of too little, too late when the inevitable and trudgingly obvious revelations and transformations finally take place. Starring Bruce Willis, Spencer Breslin, Emily Mortimer, Lily Tomlin and Jean Smart. Directed by Jon Turteltaub. Written by Audrey Wells. Produced by Jon Turteltaub, Christina Steinberg and Hunt Lowry. A Buena Vista release. Comedy. Rated PG for mild language. Running time: 105 min

Tags: Disney, magic, time travel, kids, romance, ethics, change of heart, Bruce Willis, Spencer Breslin, Emily Mortimer, Lily Tomlin, Jean Smart, Jon Turtletaub

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