The Kid Detective is available to rent or buy now
One of the sad facts of lockdown and the closed cinemas surrounding us is that many great movies have slipped under the radar. Their premieres moved to digital platforms, where audiences are bombarded with content and options. Many films during 2020 and early 2021 have suffered from this lack of attention in the digital world. With studios slipping them out online with little fanfare, hoping they find an audience. The Kid Detective is one of those movies, its sheer brilliance hidden by a quiet digital arrival here in the UK. Its intelligent, dry humour wrapped in a taut murder mystery that twists and turns before taking us somewhere genuinely unexpected—the resulting picture, razor-sharp in both screenplay, performances and direction.
Abe Applebaum (Adam Brody) spends his days looking at life through the bottom of a whiskey bottle. His small detective agency only surviving through the slowly evaporating fame of his youth. Abe was once a kid detective, locally famous for solving low-level mysteries, ranging from stolen charity money to missing pets. The whole town finding his twelve-year-old crime-solving techniques both cute and humorous. However, the local fame and adulation soon vanished as Abe grew into a man. His adult life spent taking cases on cheating boyfriends and missing dogs. But when a high-school student arrives in his shabby office asking for help, Abe spots an opportunity to find his voice in the town once again. While finally answering a deadly secret that has haunted Abe’s thoughts ever since his childhood.
The Disneyesque title of writer-director Evan Morgan’s superb movie is bound to leave viewers off guard as they enter Abe’s world. The first half of the film focusing on the man-child antics of Brody’s Abe. His role as a detective, mere play-acting based on a childhood dream that never came to fruition. The film’s superbly timed humour playing with audience expectations as the story unfolds. However, it is the sharp left turn of its final act that genuinely grabs our attention. The movie’s comedy evaporating into something far darker. Here, Morgan delivers a curveball that not only surprises but enthrals, as Abe’s past and present combine in the expert hands of Brody.
Meanwhile, flowing throughout the crime-solving escapade is Abe’s existential despair. His place and purpose defined by a childhood of local celebrity status. And as the film draws to its conclusion, it is here where we find ourselves left with unanswered questions. The final scene taking us inside the mind of a man held in the vacuum between adolescence and adulthood.
With a beautiful crime noir-inspired score, The Kid Detective is an all too rare gem in modern film comedy. It’s intelligently crafted screenplay, both fresh and engaging. The narrative never allowing for simple labels as its shifts and sways between set-piece humour, noir, drama and dark comedy. And while for some viewers, its finale may prove disconcerting considering the comedic shine proceeding it, The Kid Detective is nothing short of fascinating, innovative, and fresh.