Starring: Charlie Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Jackie Coogan
Director: Charlie Chaplin
Running Time: 68 mins
The Kid is an American film following The Tramp as he takes care of an abandoned young boy, however their strong bond is tested over the years by the nature of their poverty-stricken lives.
Of his long and illustrious career, The Kid is generally seen as Charlie Chaplin’s first blockbuster hit. For me, it’s not his best work of all, having seen how far he developed over the next two decades, given its short runtime and simpler story, however this is still an entertaining film with a heartwarming central relationship.
In fact, that’s where I’d like to start, with the relationship that develops between The Tramp and The Kid. Whilst I wasn’t all that impressed with the majority of the plot, the centre of the film focuses on how The Tramp goes from his initial reluctance to take in this abandoned child to caring for him and genuinely loving him like a son.
What’s more is that their relationship takes place against a backdrop of poverty, giving rise to some emotional undertones about both the strength of familial love and their struggles. In that, this film has a very similar feel to the post-war Italian film Bicycle Thieves, centring on a father and son in a desperate situation, but still providing a heartwarming central relationship to make for an enjoyable watch.
The issues with this film for me come with regards to its comedy and storytelling. In some of Chaplin’s other films (Modern Times in particular), I’ve had an utterly enthralling experience, thanks to Chaplin’s outstanding laugh-out-loud brand of slapstick comedy, as well as a powerfully intelligent and emotional story throughout.
Now, 15 years before Modern Times, and still years before sound cinema and Chaplin’s first big Hollywood studio deal, it’s inevitable that this film wouldn’t have as much weight to it. Its short runtime is a shame to see, and its somewhat underwhelming comedy and plot are disappointing in comparison to later works.
Overall, however, there is a lot to like about The Kid. Principally, it’s a heartwarming tale about a father-son relationship that takes place in a difficult situation. It’s not riotously funny nor dramatically enthralling, but it’s an entertaining classic, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.3.