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Disney's The Kid

review by Zach B.

Rated PG

Studio: Disney

Running Time: 104 minutes

Starring Bruce Willis, Spencer Breslin, Emily Mortimer, Lily Tomlin, Chi McBride

Written by Audrey Wells

Directed by Jon Turteltaub

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Commentary with Jon Turteltaub and Spencer Breslin, Conversations with Jon Turteltaub featurette, Jon Turteltaub Bio, Theatrical Trailer, Sneak Previews

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search (24 Chapters)

Russ Duritz (Bruce Willis) is an image consultant. He just has that knack for making people look good and turning things around. Ironically, Duritz can't seem to do that for himself. Call him heartless... call him mean... call him whatever you want. Pretty much, Durtiz has forgotten who he is and what it's like to have fun. Yet that begins to change right before his big 4-0 (birthday, that is). Somehow, Russ as an eight year old (who goes by the name "Rusty" - played by newcomer Spencer Breslin) enters his life. Of course, Russ can't believe it and goes into some kind of denial, and things do go downhill from there. No matter how hard he tries, his younger self doesn't seem to go away. Together though, Russ and "Rusty" have to figure out how he got there and why. And of course, along the way, there are plenty of screwball moments and some tense drama toward the conclusion.

I have to admit that this is a pretty enjoyable movie, and while it is aimed for families, I think this is a movie for all ages, whether you're eight or eighty. It works on a nice level for kids, but it works on a smarter, better level for adults. The title, however, "Disney's The Kid" is a pretty big turn-off, it's one of the corniest titles I've ever heard, just to make it seem like the movie has that "Disney family magic". While I originally did not plan to see this movie due to how stupid the advertising made it look, I gave in after reading some very positive reviews. This movie was a pretty moderate success over the summer, raking in over 70 million at the box office (though I head it cost 65 million to make). The film has some nice comedy, but I liked how it dealt with a message in a way that doesn't dumb it down or they rub it in your face. Many people forget what it's like to be a kid and take a break and have fun (while some never even grow up), people forget a sense of themselves and who they are. This movie pretty much follows that, as Russ slowly comes to remember his true self. I'm sure if you keep an open mind and don't go in thinking it'll be a kiddie flick, you'll have a nice time watching it.

The movie does have some very solid production values. For one thing, Bruce Willis is in it. This movie is proof of the range Bruce Willis has as an actor. I think he's a very underated actor and has been stereotyped for action films like "Die Hard" and "Armageddon". But if you know your Willis, his body of work in the past fifteen years has shown a lot. Beside action, he can tacklle deep drama ("Unbreakable", "Nobody's Fool") as well as comedy ("The Whole Nine Yards" and my personal favorite, the 80s TV series "Moonlighting"). It's very nice to see Willis in a role like this, because he does a wonderful job. I heard that Willis once vowed he'd never act with children, but obviously, he changed his ways and when he does, he does a very good job. So "North" wasn't the greatest movie, but I felt he was robbed of an Oscar® nod for "The Sixth Sense".

The other performances are pretty good and enjoyable. Lily Tomlin has a nice, smaller role and she gives off her usual deadpan charm. Emily Mortimer plays Amy, Russ' love-interest to an extent. Finally, we have newcomer Spencer Breslin as the younger Russ, who's pretty good. He doesn't overact and doesn't appear to be obnoxious. He plays the part perfectly, and was a good choice. On a different note, I enjoyed Marc Shaiman's score. It's sorta catchy, as well as light and brisk. It pretty much fits the film perfectly.

Audrey Wells wrote the movie, and I was very happy to hear that, because I think she is a very unique writer. I thought "Guinevere" and "The Truth About Cats And Dogs" were very nice films that were very well written. Yet when I heard Jon Turtetaub directed "Disney's The Kid"... I became a bit weary. I'm not a big fan of his work. While I did enjoy "Cool Runnings" and "While You Were Sleeping", I wasn't that keen with the overrated "Phenonmenon" and "Instinct". While some of his directing choices are a bit formulatic and nothing new, this is one of his better films, because as I mentioned, the film doesn't get dumb down in the process.

Again, if you give this movie a chance, you'll be quite surprised at how good it really is. It's well written, it's well acted and while it appears to be your usual family schtick, it's really not. "Disney's The Kid" is well worth your time.

 

Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, this is another great Disney transfer (it's been a year now since they've gone anamorphic and since then it's been a whole new standard for them). I didn't notice any artifacts, but there was some debris and grain now and then on the print. No matter though, colors are generally solid and things look pretty much perfect. Another excellent effort from Disney.

I really didn't what to expect much in this department, and I really didn't get anything. The audio is in English Dolby Digital 5.1 (as well as French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1), and surrounds are kept to a mininum. When they are there they are pretty good, but leave it to the front speakers to carry the movie. Marc Shaiman's nice score sounds wonderful and uses all the channels well, though. Spanish and English subtitles are also included.

Disney provided some very nice extras for this disc, starting with a Commentary With Jon Turteltaub And Spencer Breslin. Right off the bat, I had a smile on my face throughout the commentary. The two recorded this commentary together, and this is a very light and very enjoyable commentary. It seems each had fun doing the commentary, and that's important, because it's not too dry (I've heard too many of those recently - I prefer a lighter tone). It's a fun commentary, and you do pick up some pieces of information from each side. I believe this was Breslin's first film (he mentions doing commericals), so being new to the industry, some basic terms are explained and he mentions anything (remind me if I make a film to hire "Tony's Catering"). Turtelataub is pretty laid back and does offer more insightful details, and it appears he really likes Breslin. It does get pretty funny though when Turtetaub is explaining something and Breslin just goes right to the next shot and gets into that, so there is some interrupting, but this is a well done commentary. Turteltaub, thinking more on an adult level has his own ideas of what Breslin mentions (listen during the first three minutes and Turteltaub's resisting to laugh when Breslin asks him about the prefix "bi"). Breslin wants to jump right into things and doesn't understand so many implications made throughout the film, while Turteltaub wants to take his time and explain things little by little. I don't remember the last time I talked so much about a commentary. Again, definently listen to this one. Maybe you'll find it more enjoyable than the movie itself.

Two Featurettes are included. The first, A Kid Becomes "The Kid" is made especially for the DVD, with Breslin introducing and pretty much narrating the whole thing. Included is audition tapes, screen tests, and pretty much the whole process of how Breslin was chosen and what it was like to make the film. This isn't really promotional but more insightful and interesting. I'm not a big fan of marketing fluff, so watching this was a nice change. There are some nice interviews here with Audrey Wells, Turteltaub, Bruce Willis and a few others. I'm really glad this is on the disc, and it's worth a spin to get a good idea of Breslin's experiences and how things were done for the movie. This is somewhat lengthy, so four chapter stops are included so you can go right to a certain section of the featurette.

The other featurette is Conversations With Director Jon Turteltaub. This featurette focuses on Jon Turteltaub and has some interview clips and behind the scenes footage (most are not from "Disney's The Kid" but rather other Disney films he directed, they seem to be leftover promo stuff from "While You Were Sleeping" and "Phenonemon"). Still, this is worth the viewing as Turtletaub explains what a director is (analzying it as a football game) and his thoughts on directing in general. He seems like a very nice and humble guy, as he goes on about certain challanges a director faces. Like the other featurette, I found this to be very interesting and basically shows what being a director is like. While some commentaries or featurettes you'll really only hear about stuff on the screen, certain shots, behind the scenes stories and the film itself in general, you won't really hear so much about certain, key reflections on directing. It's mostly (not always) film-only related, while here Turtletaub has a lot of passion for his work and talks about directing in a nice manner without really refering to the film so much. I always like to hear what directors think about directing, so this is a welcome addition to the disc and a good watch if you have any interest in the process of making a film.

Rounding off the disc is a Biography On Jon Turteltaub (him and him only) and some Trailers. You got "Disney's The Kid" in 2.0 and full frame, plus upcoming and already released DVDs and videos ("Dinosaur", "Lady and the Tramp 2", "Fantasia 2000" and "Toy Story 2").

 

"Disney's The Kid" is a very good movie... even if you aren't a kid. While I think Disney could have done a better job marketing this movie to a wider audience, if you choose to watch it, you're in for a nice surprise. This disc is also well worth it, with a fine looking transfer and nice bonus features. Good movie, good disc.

(4/5, NOT included in final score)

(4.5/5)

(3/5)

(3/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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