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A grown-up giggle

"The Kid"

'Disney's The Kid' asks: What if? and answers -- with a laugh

July 7, 2000
Web posted at: 2:18 p.m. EDT (1818 GMT)

(CNN) -- "Disney's The Kid" is the funniest live-action film of the summer so far. That's not saying much, since this has been a dismal movie season, but this movie helps brighten things considerably.

Again, Bruce Willis goes toe-to-toe with a child actor and comes out smelling like a rose. This guy knows that good acting is mainly reacting -- especially when dealing with someone standing under four feet tall. In this case, his brilliant co-star is 8-year-old Spencer Breslin, who is making his acting debut in this delightful Disney confection.

The premise is simple, and forget about seeing dead people, as in that last Willis-with-a-kid film ("Sixth Sense," 1999).


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Two people, one life

Willis plays Russ Duritz, a crabby, selfish man on the brink of turning 40. While he has all the trappings of success -- cars, a lavish home, designer suits, a great toupee -- his life is empty. He has no wife, no dog, and he spends his days working as an image consultant teaching other people how to pretend to be what they're not. His life is a bitch, and it's given him a nervous twitch.

The only positives in his life are Janet and Amy, his two assistants.Lily Tomlin is genius as Janet, Duritz's personal secretary. She's the only person who can cut through his ego and call him on his bad behavior. British actress Emily Mortimer ("Notting Hill," 1999), plays Amy, the assistant with whom he's in love -- only he doesn't know it yet.

The Kid

Enter an astounding child actor -- Breslin, playing Duritz as a kid.

Somehow -- it's never explained how, so just go with it -- Duritz's 8-year-old self pops up in his own life, 32 years into the future. Neither is happy about it, either.

The older Duritz hates what he was: "When I look at him, it's a collection of awful memories that I've spent most of my adult life trying to forget," exclaims Willis' character. Young Duritz isn't exactly thrilled, either. "Let me get this straight," he says at one point. "I'm 40, not married, and I don't have a dog. I grow up to be a loser!"

Yet all is not lost, because lessons are learned. Remember, this is a Disney movie.

Funny script, good acting

Audrey Wells ("The Truth About Cats & Dogs," 1996) has written a charming script that -- for the most part -- avoids cheap sentiment, and director Jon Turteltaub ("While You Were Sleeping," 1995) keeps things whimsical without getting gooey.

Willis again illustrates his deft comic abilities. With his extensive action-movie credits it's easy to forget he started in comedy with TVs "Moonlighting," or that his his first feature film was the Blake Edwards' comedy "Blind Date" (1987).

Most people, at one time or another, have dreamed of traveling back in time to do things differently. "Disney's The Kid" reminds us that such a fantasy could be a two-way street, and it asks an insightful question: Would our inner child be happy with the way we turned out?

One thing is certain: The kid inside you will love this movie. So take him -- or her -- out, buy that youngster some popcorn and have a great time.

"Disney's The Kid" opens nationwide Friday and is rated PG. 101 minutes.

Cruising into long, loud summer movie season
May 25, 2000

Disney's The Kid

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