Jordan James Brooks’s review published on Letterboxd:
“A picture with a smile - and perhaps a tear.”
The Kid is Charlie Chaplin’s first great attempt at a feature, and though it doesn’t reach the standards of his later work, it still has the charm that he would apply to those grand masterpiece that would follow on from this great great film. With The Kid, Chaplin applies a lot more drama that begins to detour from the comedy that really does come in smaller doses than can be expected of his early work. As hinted at by its opening title, it definitely takes a more centered approach at depicting a heartwarming tale that tries to tug on the heartstrings whilst also supplying some much needed humor along the way. And it vastly succeeds in doing so.
It certainly is a valiant effort in terms of casting, as the chemistry between both Chaplin and Jackie Coogan (as the child), is always a joy to experience and something that certainly takes on a whole melancholy mood as the pair run into constant obstacles throughout their day-to-day struggles to survive. With great use of the music (composed by Chaplin himself), the whole film has a very bittersweet atmosphere, which is only enlightened by the patches of comic relief.
I can’t talk about Chaplin’s first feature without mentioning the fight scene, which is one of my favorite moments in any of his films; it’s brilliantly executed and so very creative. This part of the film is by far the sequence with the most comedic elements, because as mentioned, this film does detour from the comedy a lot more than his later and more fleshed out work; the same could be said for the storytelling. Arranged somewhere in the middle half of the film, the fight scene is immensely well choreographed and was actually one of the original sketches that got me into Chaplin.
The Kid is one of the defining films for me when it comes to both Chaplin as a filmmaker and a performer. It’s extremely well done, and a step in the right direction for him, as he was so accustomed to shorts around this time. It’s quite crazy to think how much further greatness he would achieve with the likes of The Gold Rush and The Circus.