Maddy (Kristin Stewart) is an adventurous pre-teen who is adored by her former daredevil father, Tom (Sam Robards), and her two love struck friends (Corbin Bleu and Max Thieriot). When Tom becomes hospital bound with a disabling injury, the price for full recovery is far too much for Maddy and her mother, Molly (Jennifer Beals), to cover. Maddy soon hatches a plan to steal the necessary funds from a bank her mother has helped construct, charming her friends into assisting her. Using their gifts for creative security-evading devices and exploiting their aura of innocence around adults, the trio take on the biggest adventure a kid their age could ever imagine, and it must be accomplished before bedtime.
Well, if the adults can run the heist genre into the ground, why shouldn’t the kids? “Catch That Kid” (IMDb listing) (a remake of a 2002 Danish film) follows recent trends that seem to be forcing every single film release to feature some type of elaborate burglary in its plot. “Kid” is very much in the “Ocean’s Eleven” mode, but in place of Las Vegas and a glitzy cast, this film features a bank heist using Xbox controls, go-karts, babysitting, and the developing awkward sexuality of lead actress (and famous tomboy) Kristin Stewart.
Even though “Kid” is an unremarkable family film, the inclusion of filmmaker Bart Freundlich into the mix is a very exciting proposal. In place of tossing a careless hack director to run “Kid” through its familiar courses, Freundlich is a filmmaker noted for his thoughtful “indie” films like “The Myth of Fingerprints,” and the unfairly maligned “World Traveler.” The idea of a crafty helmer like this in charge of a “Spy Kids” influenced heist film is promising, but Freundlich slowly drops the ball of potential as it becomes clear “Kid“ isn‘t going to be the least bit inventive.
Freundlich does work in a little humanity to this exercise early and softly, setting up the stakes easily for Maddy and her crew so there’s something to root for. Instead of just a get-rich-quick scheme, Maddy is racing against the clock to save her dearly loved father, and this tender section of the story is where “Kid” plays the strongest. Once the heist begins, the familiarity of the plot’s maneuvers is enough to pass the time without much complaining, but it’s in this section of the picture that Freundlich gets the bright idea that comedy is needed. Bringing in actor James LeGros (a regular Freundlich collaborator) to ham it up as a brain-dead security officer who can’t figure out Maddy’s plans, LeGros is as unfunny a performer as an actor can possibly get, and his scenes are appalling to witness. Freundlich amplifies this pain to new heights with the inclusion of witless slapstick and the mandatory flatulence joke.
“Catch That Kid” is much more agreeable once the kids start the safe cracking and the elusion of law enforcement officials. But the potential of what Freundlich could’ve brought to the film is truly disappointing when you see what he settled for.
Filmfodder Grade: C