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DISNEY'S THE KID

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Bruce Willis, Spencer Breslin, Emily Mortimer, Lily Tomlin, Chi Mcbride
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic Transfer
Studio: Walt Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 104 Minutes
Release Date: January 23, 2001

Film ***

Now more than ever, I consider Bruce Willis to be an amazing movie presence. The last few years have been terrific for the actor. Ever since the actorís brilliantly restrained performance in The Sixth Sense, he has been turning in some amazingly wonderful and charming characterizations, proving now more than ever that he is capable of a lot more than the action adventure hero he was so used to playing early in his career, not that he isnít good in those roles. In 2000, Willis made a grand total of three very good films. First, he appeared in the wonderfully witty The Whole Nine Yards. He also reunited with Sixth Sense director M. Night Shaymalan for the brilliant triumph Unbreakable. In between those two films, Willis appeared in a family oriented movie, called Disneyís The Kid, which carries the Disney name simply to differentiate it from Charlie Chaplinís The Kid, made back in 1921. Watching this movie, I realized how wonderful it was to see Willis branch out and do material heís never done before. The result is a magical film, much in the Disney spirit, and is one of the more heartwarming movies Iíve seen in a while.

Willis plays Russ Duritz, an L.A. image consultant whoís an extreme workaholic whoís very energetic in his work, but he lacks kindness and a heart. He treats nobody with any respect, including his own father, and his secretary (Lily Tomlin), who most of the time ignores her bossí comments. Then one night, Russ awakes from his sleep and encounters an unlikely stranger in his home. The stranger is that of a pudgy-faced, 8 year old boy. After the two realize similar characteristics, such markings on the neck and legs, Russ realizes the boy whoís invaded his home is Russ himself at age 8, only the boy goes by the name Rusty, played by Spencer Breslin in a winning and very charming screen debut.

At first, Russ thinks its an hallucination, and wants nothing more than for the boy to disappear. But Rusty turns out to be more than real, since other people besides Russ can notice the boy, too. The two are stuck together, as the bigger Russ unwillingly escorts the younger boy around town, getting acquainted with some of Russí colleagues, whom he tells that the boy is his nephew. Rusty is immediately disappointed in the man heís grown up to be, as he sums it up to Russ, ďSo Iím 40, Iím not married, I donít fly jets, and I DONíT HAVE A DOG?? I GROW UP TO BE A LOSER?!Ē

One of the neat pleasures of The Kid is the way it surprises you along the way. I must admit, this story didnít conclude the way I expected it to. The last half of the movie involves a sort of Back to the Future-like space-time continuum plot device that I was very pleased to see. We then begin to understand how Russ got to be the man he is today through certain events that occurred in his childhood. The filmís conclusion is supremely heartwarming and deeply satisfying.

The Kid was directed by Jon Turteltaub, who also directed Phenomenon with John Travolta, which is another heartwarming film that I hold dear to my heart. Itís easy to see why the movie comes off as pleasant as it does. Not a lot of these kinds of movies are made today like they were years ago, so it was refreshing to see film with such heart as The Kid come along and bring out the kid in me, as Iím sure it will in you as well.

Video ****

As magical as the movie is, so is Disneyís wonderful transfer. This anamorphically enhanced widescreen presentation is thoroughly clear, and completely crisp and free of grain threw the entire viewing. The movie is filled mostly with bright colorizations, which come through extremely nicely. I havenít seen many live action Disney movies on DVD, but The Kid is certainly one of the best looking ones Iíve seen.

Audio ***1/2

A lively soundtrack provides some very impressive sound quality on The Kid. Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, the movieís musical score, as well as numerous sound effects here and there are captured wonderfully to digital perfection from Disney.

Features ***

A nice use of extras from Disney, including that of a commentary from Jon Turteltaub and co-star Spencer Breslin, which is a rarity because for the first time that I can think of, you can get a film from a childís perspective. Also included is a behind the scenes documentary called ďBecoming the KidĒ, some conversations with Jon Turteltaub, and a trailer.

Summary:

If itís feel good entertainment that you seek, Disneyís The Kid has that quality and nothing less. Fans of movies such as Back to the Future and Frequency will enjoy this movie as well, as will families who find it hard to watch a movie thatís suitable for all ages.