The Kid

The Kid ★★★½

The Kid is, as it so aptly says itself, a great comedy with a smile - and perhaps a tear.

The story and its characters are very charming, and works perfectly for proclaiming both humor and the more serious themes. A slapstick, like this, depends on a sympathetic protagonist, where Chaplin's tramp character really is among the very best. Jackie Coogan as the kid is also a very good slapstick character, and especially in collaboration with Chaplin. Their relation is the core to the charm, and it is really funny to see Jackie Coogan as a little version of Chaplin's tramp character. Chaplin is a evident role model for him, which is a vital element in the plot. Their strong relation is gaining the audience's sympathy also in their trouble with the authorities.

The Kid was obviously very besides its time. The early twenties were boom times in the United States, and the citizens enjoyed the prosperity in the aftermath of WWI. Chaplin's portrait of poverty were therefor not a current condition in its present. It was still a success though, and were one of the year's most viewed films at the cinemas. These themes attained more social relevance in the 30's in conduction with the great depression. The particular element with the kid must have also influenced Italian neorealism, which occurred some decades later, a lot.

Even though the plot is a great depiction of injustice, there are some elements which takes it a little too far. I'm mainly talking about the picture of Jesus Christ in the start and the whole dream sequence with angles and a devil towards the end. A Chaplin comedy simply doesn't need such cheesy symbolics. I think that Chaplin underestimated the power of the tramp and the kid's character relation, as I easily thinks that that alone managed to express the injustice.

The comedy and slapstick elements are as good as expected with a Chaplin film. The tramp is just as clumsy and naive as always, which makes way for some splendid slapstick. He gets a challenge with the kid early on, but after the film jumps five years in time, the kid is just at the same level as the tramp. It certainly tells a lot about the tramp-character, about how naive and childish he is. The happy ending is a genre convention for sure, but I couldn't help but feel that it was a bit forced and weakly built up. (I watched the 50 minutes version in case that is different in the 68 minutes version)

Charlie Chaplin's The Kid really is another hysterical slapstick-comedy. It really shows how perfect the silent film-medium was for both Chaplin and the sub-genre. It was his first full length film though, so it isn't quite perfect. Even though the charming and sympathetic characters works well in both the comedy parts and the drama parts, there is a few flaws in the conjunction between the two genres. It is very visible that Chaplin had a good hand at comedies, but he simply wasn't fully developed at dramas at the time. The Kid still is a great comedy and contains some drama elements which later became very influential.