Day By Day

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

More Movies -- The American Miss

"She Who Must Not Be Named" and I went to see Kit Kittridge yesterday. Despite the fact that it was well-reviewed [79% on the Tomatometer] I did not expect to be amused and wasn't. Even my low expectations were far too high. This movie is a travesty.

OK, it's a kids flick, and therefore you cannot expect much complexity and sophistication, but even by those minimal standards KK fails. The film is set in 1934, at the depth of the Great Depression, and unrelentingly hammers the viewer with simplistic liberal fantasies. I knew we were in trouble when the introduction included uplifting images of Eleanor Roosevelt and the first scenes included a horribly unsympathetic businessman and, as counterpoint, nobly struggling poor.

The plot is silly -- the family tries to cope with dad's unemployment by taking in boarders, dad leaves looking for work, everyone suffers but Kit keeps up their morale, bad guys steal everyone's valuables and pin the rap on an innocent hobo kid, Kit finds evidence of their misdeeds and, after a really stupid chase sequence which culminates with the rising of the hoboes, brings the malefactors to justice. The innocent poor are cleared, dad returns, the hoboes are invited in to share Thanksgiving dinner with the reunited family and everyone is happy. The end.

OK, it's a kids flick -- you expected anything better?

What really got me was the acting. There's a lot of talent on the screen -- many of Hollywood's best character actors have parts. Listen to the list -- Julia Ormond and Chris O'Donnell, Jane Krakowski, Wallace Shawn, Glenne Headley, Joan Cusack, Stanley Tucci, Kenneth Walsh, Colin Mochrie, the list goes on and on. Yet, with the exception of O'Donnell, none of them turns in a creditable performance. In some cases [Cusack and Headley, I'm talkin' bout you] the over-acting is just plain embarrassing. Of course the script doesn't help much and the direction is terrible.

But the adults are pretty much superficial to the story -- the real action is with the kids. Here the problem is that Abigail Breslin, who plays Kit, can't act. She has never, repeat NEVER!, turned in a decent performance [and I'm including Little Miss Sunshine in that assessment]. Her ineptitude is shown up by the other kids in the film, especially Zach Mills, who turns in a nicely nuanced performance. The only cast member who distinguishes himself is Max Thieriot, who is great in the role of Will, the innocent hobo kid.

Bad writing, bad acting, bad plotting, bad dialog, bad everything.

Give it a miss.