The Kid

The Kid ★★★

"A picture with a smile - and perhaps, a tear"

This is what the opening title of The Kid reads. However, I think it's a bit of a misnomer - Chaplin's first feature-length film isn't a comedy with elements of drama, it's a near-tragedy with small bits of comedy sprinkled throughout. Of course, that's not to undermine how good the comedy is. It may not seem particularly inventive today, because it's going through bits you've seen many times before, but this film is where they all started. And one could easily make the argument that they haven't been topped since.

Where this movie really shines, however, is in the relationship between the titular "kid" and Chaplin's iconic Tramp - as well in the story of this grieving mother, longing for the child she was forced to abandon. None of these elements may be particularly fleshed out - given the film's almost all-too-brief runtime - but they are remarkably heartfelt and nearly force you to empathize despite this.

It's not my favorite work of Chaplin's, and I'd be lying if I said the Dreamland sequence wasn't super out of place compared to the rest of the film (though maybe someone smarter than I can explain its significance), but seeing as this was his first feature and he wrote, produced, directed, (much later) scored, and starred in it, it's an incredible achievement. And it's a joy to watch almost 100 years later.

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