Russ Duritz (Bruce Willis) is a wealthy L.A. image consultant, but as he nears 40, he's cynical, dogless, chickless, estranged from his father (Daniel von Bargen), and he has no memories of his childhood. One night he surprises an intruder (Spencer Breslin), who turns out to be a kid, almost 8 years old. There's something oddly familiar about the chubby lad, whose name is Rusty. The boy's identity sparks a journey into Russ's past that the two of them take - to find the key moment that has defined who Russ is. Two long-suffering women look on with disbelief: Russ's secretary, Janet(Lily Tomlin), and his assistant, the lovely Amy, to whom Rusty takes a shine. What, and who, is at the end of this journey? Written by
The Kid - At 39 years old Russel Duritz has a life that most men would envy - he has a great job, is respected (and feared), has a beautiful house and makes buckets of money. But everything comes at a cost, in this case no social life, no conscience and a fear of spending the rest of his life alone. He just needs someone to show him the way.
As I watched the movie, I kept wondering why Disney didn't pass this film on to Miramax - not because it's particularly daring or edgy, but because it is clearly a movie for adults. This is exacerbated by the marketing campaign which is clearly targeting children - it is lumped in with trailers for "Rugrats the Movie", and "Pokemon 2000" (aren't they passe yet?). But I quibble.
I was impressed by the sensitive treatment of the subject matter - rather than the typical male midlife crisis that involves some pathetic sap buying a Porsche convertible and acting like a moron, Willis' character undertakes some serious introspection and takes stock of his life. His guide on this journey of self-discovery is himself at age 8 (they never explain how Rusty arrives and frankly, I didn't care). Young Rusty's innocence and unbridled optimism give him a distinct advantage in divining the truth - he sums up Russell's job as an image consultant thusly, "You teach people how to lie and pretend to be something they aren't". In order for a good script to succeed, however, you need actors to bring it to life. Not a problem here.
Although Willis has thrice ignored W.C. Fields' warnings about starring with children or animals he has lucked out once again, meshing as well comedically with Breslin as he did dramatically with Osment. Willis manages to balance Russell's cutthroat powerbroker traits with vulnerability and confusion, without becoming ridiculous. Breslin meanwhile gives a dead on portrayal of a kid from everyone's childhood - the one that always stuck out for some reason and got picked on. We also get two bonus performances: Lily Tomlin is great as Russell's levelheaded assistant and Jean Smart is perfect as an insightful charming anchorwoman (I loved her in "Guinevere").
The Kid is charming, heavy, and real. And it will appeal to adults of all ages.
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