Picks and Pans Review: Disney's the Kid

updated 07/17/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/17/2000 01:00AM

Bruce Willis, Spencer Breslin

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Russ Duritz (Willis) is a high-powered image consultant. His job is to make people over, to gussy them up and polish the rough edges. But the image he has worked on most assiduously is his own, as becomes clear when the 39-year-old Russ finds himself suddenly face-to-face with his 7-year-old self (Breslin), a pudgy, forlorn kid called Rusty who speaks, as his grown-up version says, "as if he has a mouthful of spit."

Disney's The Kid is a surprisingly sweet comic fantasy about the gap between childhood dreams and adult reality. Or, as a particularly perceptive pal (Jean Smart, in a lovely cameo) tells the adult Russ, "How many of us turn out the way we think we will when we're kids? If we did, there would be a whole lot more astronauts and prima ballerinas. We just grow up to do the best we can."

In no way is Willis's Russ doing the best he can. He is an emotionally constipated egomaniac who ignores his would-be girlfriend (Emily Mortimer), overworks his loyal secretary (Lily Tomlin) and can't be bothered to visit his dad. When—poof!—his youthful self shows up suddenly at his starkly modern house in Los Angeles one day, neither grown-up nor child is quite sure why he's there. Each is a disappointment to the other; Willis is embarrassed by the crybaby tendencies of his mini me, while little Rusty declares of his adult model, "I don't have a dog, I don't fly jet planes, and I don't have a wife? I grow up to be a loser!"

How these two discover the worth in each other and reshape their life makes for an amusing, at times touching film. Willis and Breslin play off each other beautifully, and Tomlin adds comic zing every time she shows up. Between Kid and The Sixth Sense, Willis would be wise to keep working with small fry. (PG)

Bottom Line: A winner for Willis

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