In Disney's The Kid, Bruce Willis is an image consultant--think Dick Morris, without the toe-sucking--who could use a makeover of his own. Though rich and successful, he's a major jerk, the result, it appears, of some long-buried childhood trauma. But this isn't just The Kid, it's Disney's The Kid, so both the childhood trauma and the child show up just in time for Willis' 40th birthday. Inner child, meet your outer child in a movie that evokes both Back to the Future and That Darn Cat. Directed by Jon Turteltaub, who spread the-power-of-love goo over everything in Phenomenon, Disney's The Kid makes Chaplin's The Kid look like a hard-hitting exposé on turn-of-the-century child-labor conditions. But like most movies featuring a chubby-cheeked youngster with a loose lip, it has its moments.
Those moments tend to involve bodily functions, as when Willis mentions "fart bubbles." At least, that's when the kids at the screening I attended sat up and took notice. Spencer Breslin, who kept reminding me of Spanky in "Our Gang," handles the Jackie Coogan role beautifully; he has great natural timing. As for Willis, he works up a major sweat trying to give the Dean Jones role an edge. Unfortunately, the script works just as hard trying to keep things warm and cuddly. And Marc Shaiman's relentlessly cheery, cheerily relentless score (it belongs with a Warner Bros. cartoon) keeps pounding away on the musical question, "Are we having fun yet?" I would have had more fun if Turteltaub had settled down and let the material find its natural rhythms. This Kid suffers from attention deficit disorder.