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Disney's: The Kid

Another lesser-known but adorable live-action Disney film is The Kid, starring Bruce Willis (Die Hard, The 5th Element, Death Becomes Her) and Spencer Breslin (Zoom, The Cat In The Hat, The Santa Clause 3). Bruce Wilis plays Russell “Russ” Duritz, a highly successful image consultant who makes his living by bossing people around (as he himself says). He’s very happy with his job and his life that includes business trips, frequent meetings, a personal assistant and a photographer, and a large albeit empty mansion. He has no time for his family and in fact eschews them. But one day, a little boy named Rusty shows up out of nowhere. Funnily enough, Rusty used to be Russ’ nickname when he was this boy’s age…

It turns out that Rusty is Russ’ 7-turning-8-year-old self, who’s been pulled forward through time to end up with his 39-turning-40-year-old self. They have to learn how to live with each other, and later, they have to learn why Russ changed from a sweet little boy to the complete jerk he grew up to become.

This movie was a delight from start to finish. Disney is of course known for its animated classics, but many of their lesser-known live-action films are just as enjoyable and have as much heart. The Game Plan, which I’ve previously reviewed and still highly recommend, is absolutely one of those, but after seeing The Kid for the first time I would definitely say it also qualifies. The dynamic between Russ and his younger self is hilarious from start to finish - the two actors have quite the chemistry with each other.

Bruce Willis hardly needs introduction, but for some his comedic prowess might. Not as well-known for his humorous capabilities, they are nonetheless every bit as honed as his dramatic-action skills. His line deliveries and facial expressions will have you chuckling through the whole film. And when the movie calls for it (which at a certain point it does) the level of tenderness he brings to Russ’ character will no doubt leave you with a tear in your eye.

Spencer Breslin is well-known to me, being quite a popular child actor at the time I was growing up. I had no idea he’d been acting when he was quite this young, but he already shows great understanding of his character, Russ’ character, and the story as a whole. His acting is every bit as good as Bruce Willis himself, comedy, tenderness and all. Nearly all of the most memorable, quotable lines from this movie are delivered by him.

Emily Mortimer (Mary Poppins Returns, Lars and the Real Girl) plays Amy, Russ’ photographer and love interest. She is very well-cast and is able to play someone who is spunky and bright and believes in Russ, while at the same time doesn’t put up with his rudeness and proves herself to be more mature than he is with her understanding of what is truly right and wrong. Her arc over the course of the movie may be predictable, but Emily Mortimer plays it impeccably and makes Amy an interesting character to watch the whole way through.

Another actor who needs no introduction is Lily Tomlin (Laugh-In, Nine to Five, All of Me, The Incredible Shrinking Woman) who plays Janet, Russ’ snarky personal assistant. I don’t believe Lily Tomlin has ever played a role badly, and Janet is certainly no exception. Even though she and Russ hate each other, you can tell how much they genuinely care about each other too. And Lily Tomlin’s sarcasm will never fail to be a treat.

Last but not least, we have Jean Smart (Designing Women, Kim Possible, 24) as Deirdre Lafever, a small yet important role in the story that Ms. Smart really brings to life. Though you only see her twice, you remember her. Her genuine kindness and brightness make her stick out among the main cast, and seeing where her character ends up is a satisfying moment to be sure.

The Kid was directed by Jon Turteltaub (Cool Runnings, National Treasure, While You Were Sleeping) and written by Audrey Wells (The Game Plan, Under the Tuscan Sun, George of the Jungle). Both filmmakers knew they had a hidden gem on their hands, and put their all into making this a truly great movie despite its smaller scale. It just goes to show that sometimes having a multi-billion dollar budget and a blockbuster release aren’t enough to make a movie worth watching. Sometimes it’s the quieter stories that are able to ring true and stick with you even after you’ve watched it.

This will certainly become a movie that I watch frequently, now that I know it exists. And I hope that if anyone here had never seen or heard of it before this that you will check it out too! Kids and parents alike will be more than happy to see this little tale out to its conclusion. I hope it helps us all remember that having a huge salary and a huge mansion aren’t the really fulfilling things in life. Relationships - familial, platonic and romantic - are far more important. And maintaining those relationships, as well as your relationship with yourself, just isn’t possible without forgiveness - of others’ shortcomings, and of your own.

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