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Kid
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by Jack Sommersby

"C. Thomas Howell Kicks Some Redneck Ass"
3 stars

Oh, it's not the kind of thing that warrants racing out to the video store to find, but it's perfectly pleasing viewing for the undemanding.

C. Thomas Howell is surprisingly forceful in the title role in the low-budget revenge tale Kid playing a no-name stranger who gets off the bus in the tiny southwestern town of Whitebrush and immediately takes to killing the men responsible for the vicious murders of his mother and father when he was just eight-years old. Through flashbacks we learn his parents were hippies living in one of those peace-loving VW vans on a piece of property they owned, but the redneck men of the town didn’t take kindly to these “communists” in their community, and one night they showed up with shotguns and slaughtered the two of them and thinking their son was killed when they set fire to the van. Wearing a black trench coat, tan khakis, white sleeveless undershirt, and with his thick hair immaculately styled, Howell commands our attention from first scene to last; his laconic loner interpretation has considerable weight considering the screenplay isn’t exactly bursting with invention. After checking into the town’s dilapidated motel, he casually makes his way to a sporting-goods store whose owner was one of the men in question, and after purchasing a hunting knife, two cans of bug spray, and a can of tennis balls, he easily disables him, handcuffs him to a chair, and forces one of the balls laced with bug spray into his mouth, and then makes sure the man can see the peace-symbol necklace his mother was wearing that fateful night -- upon recognizing it, the man hyperventilates and winds up suffocating and choking to death on his own vomit. (The late Sam Peckinpah would no doubt have laughed himself silly at such a unique killing method.) The Kid allows himself to be befriended by a young blonde local woman, Kate (the enchanting Sarah Trigger), and her teenage punk-rock-musician brother Louie (the gruesome Brian Austin Green), whose father is currently away on a business trip, which is convenient in that the Kid is invited to stay with them after the malicious county sheriff has beaten the Kid up and ordered him to get out of town on the next bus; our ever-resilient hero opts to stay, of course, and soon he’s facing down the town’s two most formidable forces, the sheriff and the father, both of whom have been wisely cast in that both R. Lee Ermey and Dale Dye are real-life ex-servicemen and played malevolent servicemen in Full Metal Jacket and Casualties of War. One would think a lightweight like Howell would be blown off the screen by them, but as he demonstrated in The Hitcher and Soul Man he can be excellent when the role suits him, and even though Howell would be far from my first choice for Kid, he has such concentrated intensity and vivifies his screen presence enough that we have little doubt he has this role tucked into his capable mitts. In fact, he’s so convincing we don’t need Louie remarking after the Kid has easily beaten up the sheriff’s two bullying sons that he’s a “fucking force” -- it’s spelled-out “myth” by dossier rather than dramatization. The director, John Mark Robinson, who helmed the acceptable but unremarkable Roadhouse 66, does well enough, and he took a chance on making the proceedings low-key and deliberately paced. Kid is no classic, but within its limited parameters it gets a decent amount of mileage out of its shopworn story. The damn derivative thing works.

No DVD release yet.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=29338&reviewer=327
originally posted: 06/27/15 23:15:56
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USA
  14-Jan-1990 (R)

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