The Kid

First of all, despite its title, PG rating, adorable trailers and Disney’s egotistical attachment of the word “Disney’s” to the name, “The Kid” (or, more accurately, “Disney’s The Kid”) is not a movie for kids.

Kids will be restless in this movie. It’s too long for them, and its themes of recapturing the exuberance of youth are too heavy.

At the same time, I can’t say adults will exactly be thrilled with it, either. It’s a little lame, a lot manipulative, and only a little funny.

Wealthy image-consultant Russell Duritz (Bruce Willis) is a 40-year-old man with little or not regard for his fellow man. He berates his clients, abuses his secretary (Lily Tomlin), and treats his girlfriend, Amy (Emily Mortimer), like the tacked-on subplot she is.

Along comes a chubby little boy named Rusty (Spencer Breslin), who turns out to be Russell at age 8. How did Rusty come from 1968 to 2000? Thankfully, the movie avoids sci-fi questions like that and politely asks us to just go along with it on this one, which we’re keen to do, because frankly, time-travel issues are starting to get old, and we’d rather not think about them.

The question the movie DOES ask is, What is Rusty doing here? Russell naturally assumes that he’s supposed to teach this younger version of himself how not to get beaten up all through high school like he did. What he eventually learns is that it’s the other way around: Young Rusty is supposed to rekindle in Russell all the childhood dreams and ideals he once had but has since lost, what with being a wealthy image-consultant and all.

The film, generically directed by Jon Turteltaub, is not without its charms. Bruce Willis, on top of things again with the legendary “Sixth Sense” and giddily entertaining “Whole Nine Yards,” has that “Moonlighting” smirk again, and though he’s a bit of a jerk, he’s a likable one. (The first example of his rudeness is when he pays the tab for a woman ahead of him in line who can’t find her purse, just because he’s in a hurry and doesn’t have time to wait for this idiot to find her money. When she says, “Oh, you didn’t have to do that!,” he replies, “I didn’t do it for you.” She calls him a jerk, but I say, way to go, Russ. I wish I had enough money to spend it getting slow people out of my way at checkout lines.)

Breslin is that rare breed of child actor who is cute without being irritating, and funny without being obnoxious. He and Willis almost make a good pair every now and then.

The film is 104 minutes long. Combined, I don’t think there are five minutes under which (or, more often, over which) Marc Shaiman’s vapid musical score is not playing. The film never justs lets the charaters talk; we have to hear this overbearing crap blasted constantly. Not sure what emotion you’re supposed to feel? Don’t worry, the music will tell you, loudly and badly. (Some themes, I’d swear, are lifted from “Tommy Boy.”)

We should also mention something that doesn’t usually need to be mentioned: bad editing. There are many, many times when actors’ facial expressions and/or body language change from one shot to the next. Sheer sloppiness, and a sign of the assembly-line mentality that permeates the whole thing.

In the end — well, OK, through the whole thing — it’s overly sentimental and syrupy. But it’s occasionally funny, often entertaining, and undeniably charming.

C+ (1 hr. 44 min.; PG, mild vulgarity.)