The Kid

The Kid ★★★★½

Leave it to Charlie Chaplin to make me laugh my head off and break my heart at the same time. And as entertaining as he is, the delightful, young Jackie Coogan who plays the titular kid completely upstages him with his own antics and adorable little face. The jokes and cleverness between the two make for twice the fun.

On the dramatic side, this is the same kind of traumatic, no easy answers thematic material that the current Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda has made a career out of. In this case, a poor, distraught mother abandons her child in the vehicle of someone who clearly has wealth but soon changes her mind only to find the child gone. Through a series of coincidences, he's ended up in the care of Chaplin's tramp character, where he remains for 5 years, after which the truth is discovered. But who does the child belong with? The man who has loved and cared for him, despite his questionable means of making a living, or the birth mother who abandoned him?

That's the thing about Chaplin. He was about much more than just getting a laugh. He executes the bitter and the sweet and the hilarious with equal precision. My only complaint is that I was completely unprepared for such an abrupt ending of an already short feature. I wanted more. And that's high praise indeed.

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