Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Screenwriter: Audrey Wells
What if you really had the chance to change all of that? What if you could talk to yourself when you were only eight years old and explain how to take a stand for yourself, give the younger you understanding of why dad is so angry at the world, and give yourself hope for retaining individuality in a sea of conformity. In the new Disney film The Kid Russ Duritz gets that once in a lifetime chance.
Russ, played with amazing subtlety and depth by Bruce Willis, is a 40-year old loser. One of those corporate nutcases hell-bent on an uber-control trip, in three-piece suits with $200 ties, driving to work in his Porsche while he's harassing his assistant, played by the ever-clever Lily Tomlin, on the headset extension of his cell phone. No friends, no wife, and no dog. He lives in a big steel and glass house that looks like a cross between Martha Stewart, IKEA, and Geiger. Russ is an image consultant for CEOs, politicians, actors, and sports figures: basically a guy that tells people the best way to lie and deceive the public. A typical "Type-A" asshole. One night a little kid, played by Spencer Breslin, appears on his recliner eating popcorn. After a bit of desperate measures to convince himself he's not seeing ghosts, Russ comes to understand that the little kid is actually himself, but only four feet tall, eight years old, and carrying the moniker of Rusty.
From there, The Kid turns into a really strange Twilight Zone episode you might catch late at night on cable. Through Rusty's examinations of his life, Russ begins to reflect on what has gone wrong in the past thirty years. With all his work and determination to be the best, he has forgotten how to enjoy a milkshake, to be romantic with a woman, to treat a person with respect, and to maintain self-honesty and a sense of integrity.
Willis does a wonderful job as Russ, able to go from a calm, controlled individual to a crazy person in a split second. The beauty is that he does it in such a natural manner. He does a great job of pushing the emotional buttons when needed and maintains a great sense of subtlety for every situation, which gives the film depth and understanding where predecessors like Judge Reinhold and Dudley Moore failed. Spencer Breslin shines also as the misunderstood kid who speaks with his heart and tries to believe in his dreams, as big as they may be. Lily Tomlin is great as Russ's no-nonsense assistant, and Emily Mortimer provides the passion as a woman who has never forgot the beauty of the child inside.
The Kid is a strong film with a big heart. It succeeds in capturing the heart without drowning itself in the syrup typical of most Disney films. John Turteltaub, one of Disney's studio directors, does solid work, though the music is a typical Disney oboes and horns ensemble with sweeping strings, which tends to get quite annoying after the first five minutes.
The Kid has been marketed to the general public as a kid-friendly fantasy family film with Bruce Willis and a cute kid trading barbs and adventures. The surprise I found is how strong the movie's subject matter relates to Generation-X'ers slaving away in front of computers and pressing flesh at corporate jobs. The film reminded me that the most important things in life are not the European cars, IKEA furniture, big-screen televisions, and twenty-dollar entrees at the newest French restaurant. The things that matter in your life are the little things: Having a hotdog at the ballgame, eating a piece of berry pie with a scope of ice cream on top, the first kiss of a beautiful woman, and the warmth of a kitty on your lap while you write a movie review.
Willis: I got paid this much!