Disney's The Kid

Inserting the "Disney" in front of Disney's The Kid gives this new movie a certain kiddie appeal that does not necessarily match the tone of the movie. Sure, kids will enjoy it, but they will not be able to appreciate it as much as adults will (mainly done for legal reasons). Disney's The Kid is a surprisingly touching film, one that requires a certain amount of life experience in order to enjoy fully. For the second year in a row, Bruce Willis (The Whole Nine Yards, The Sixth Sense) teams with a scrappy little kid in a situation that is a little unusual. Last time, the kid saw dead people. This time, the kid's relationship to Willis is much closer.

Russ Durtiz (Willis) is an image consultant. He is rich, he has power, and he will not hesitate to verbally tear a client (or anyone else) apart. In other words, he is a jerk. Estranged from his father and single, the only two constants in Russ' life are his assistant Janet (Lily Tomlin, Tea With Mussolini, Get Bruce!) and his photographer Amy (Emily Mortimer, Scream 3, Love's Labour's Lost). Janet is the only one who can give lip to Russ, while Amy seems much too nice to keep working for him. Into Russ' life comes Rusty (Spencer Breslin), a porky little kid who more than resembles Russ. The two realize that they are the same person; Rusty is Russ when Russ was eight years old. Yet, the two could not be more different. Rusty is bright-eyed, curious, playful, and nice. Both have no idea how Rusty appeared, and both cannot believe the difference between each other. Russ cannot believe how childish he was, while Rusty cannot believe that at forty, Russ has no wife, and no dog.

Needless to say, Audrey Wells' (The Truth About Cats and Dogs, Guinevere) script is familiar. Russ believes he needs to change Rusty, when in actuality Rusty is the one changing Russ. Russ and Amy will also inevitably fall in love (well, they are already in love but just don't realize it).Willis is a jerk, but has sympathetic qualities that do not totally alienate him from the audience. Disney's The Kid falters by turning up the sap factor a little too high. While still good, Willis' acting, especially near the end, nears cheesiness. Sure he is reclaiming his childhood and rediscovering who he is, but a little less emoting would make the scenes more powerful. Marc Shaiman's score is also frequently overbearing, containing a little too many flourishes and often intrudes loudly upon the proceedings. Oddly enough, Disney's The Kid works. Director John Turteltaub (Instinct, Phenomenon) and a good cast weave together an appealing film. Wells scripts the same good-natured humor that people enjoyed in The Truth About Cats and Dogs). Like his Willis-sidekick counterpart Haley Joel Osment, Spencer Breslin can actually act. He is not like other kids who merely mug for the camera. In the final tug-of-war between near overacting and true emotion, the latter wins, causing smiles instead of groans.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 41 minutes, Rated PG for mild language.

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