Catch That Kid (2004) *
Directed by Bart Freundlich. Written by Michael Brandt & Derek Haas. Producer, Andrew Lazar. A Fox 2000 release. 100 min. Rated PG. Cast: Kristen Stewart, Corbin Blue. Max Thieriot, Jennifer Beals., Sam Robards, John Carroll Lynch, James Le Gros, et al.
An American remake of “Klatretosen” (meaning “The Climbing Girl”), a Danish film that was a major hit in Scandinavia. The subject of both movies –which, I understand, are much alike—is a big heist. Heists of all sorts are a genre that has produced some excellent pictures. Not this one, though. Its only claim to fame is its major twist of the perpetrators being minors.
Maddy (Kristen Stewart, seen earlier is “Panic Room” and “Cold Creek Manor”) is the 13-year-old daughter of Jennifer Beals and Sam Robards (Tom). Mom is an expert in bank security. Dad owns and runs a go-cart racetrack. Maddy’s best chums are techno-savant Austin (Corbin Blue) who is African-American, and Gus (Max Thieriot) a top go-cart racer. The boys seem to be younger than Maddy –and have a secret crush on her.
Dad, a former mountain-climber, had a nasty accident in the Himalayas. Years later (i.e. now) he’s suddenly stricken by life-threatening paralysis of a very rare kind. ((From the film’s start we know that Maddy has inherited he father’s love of climbing, and practices it on buildings, secretly.)
The hospital people state that the only hope lies with a Danish experimenter who, we surmise, is the only person on the planet able to cure Dad—who must go to Denmark. (In the original film, the Danish Dad must be taken to the USA.) The other catch is that the treatment will cost 250.000 U.S. dollars.
Mom, who works for a big international bank, has just had installed a state-of-the-art security system that’s out of Space Wars. The whole contraption and vaults are suspended one-hundred feet up from the bank’s floor. There are also surveillance TV screens all over the place. Plus ferocious Rotweiler dogs. And much else.
Desperate Mom begs the bank’s president for a quarter-million loan. The man scoffs at her. In fact he seems to get his jollies by putting down Mom—and may remind you of the cruel, villainous landlords of silent movies.
Maddy , with the help of her two buddies, sets up the heist of the bucks needed to keep Dad alive and well. That’s the essence of the movie. And it stinks. It is muddled, confusing, unclear, messy; its continuity is awful; it has would-be comic relief that makes no sense, defies all logic, is bad, bad, bad. Even the tacked-on parts about climbing are murky. Even the Rotweiler dogs are mishandled, irrelevant, and merely an excuse to show that their trainer is a drunken bum. Not to mention an unbelievable L.A.P.D chase of go-carts.
To add insult to injury, there’s of trace of redeeming continuity, photography, editing, dialogue, suspense, verisimilitude-- – you name it. The would-be humor is not merely lame, it is legless – and includes flatulence.
In fairness, the three kids are cute, their performances are solid within the context of an unbelievable, ever-crumbling script: try explaining the plot to a young audience!
I intended to give the film Zero Stars, but when reconsidered in tranquility the movie climbed up to one star, because : 1) the kids in general ; 2) the fact that the African-American youngster is treated naturally, without racial awareness of any kind; 3) the fact that beautiful, talented and appealing Jennifer Beals deserves more important roles than the mostly supporting ones she gets. (Not everyone knows that she is the daughter of an African-American man and an Irish woman); 4) Kristin Stewart’s birthdate is the same as mine – except for the year; 5) the film’s main –though unplanned—message is our immense need for total health insurance.