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"What happens when we deny or bury the goodness within? Look at Russ, or look at Phil in the film Groundhog Day. We keep stumbling until we get it right."
Raymond Teague is the author of Reel
Spirit: A Guide to Movies That
He is an award-winning
His book is available by clicking the "Buy the Book" link above or by clicking here.
"Reel Spirit" Movie Reviews
Disney's The Kid
The inner child in most people doesn't follow them around as blatantly as does the inner child of Russ Duritz (Bruce Willis) in this touching story. If the inner child really could materialize so clearly, many of us probably would have an easier life.
Psychologists say that getting in touch with the "inner child" can be most beneficial for adults. The theory is that there usually are aspects of our true selves that have been crippled, ignored or suppressed as we have grown up. We suffer in various ways, often with guilt, fear, and insecurity, because we haven't been able to work through childhood issues. Meeting the needs of the inner child can help us be at peace with ourselves and become more whole, alive, and alert as adults.
Disney's The Kid is an endearing look at an average guy about to turn forty who desperately needs to nurture his inner child, but of course he doesn't realize he has that need -- until his inner child, Rusty (Spencer Breslin), himself just before his eighth birthday -- shows up at his house.
The adult Russ works as an image consultant -- ironic since he has image problems himself. He is widely recognized as a jerk ("If you get called a jerk four times in the same day, does that make it true?" he asks) and is completely insensitive to the needs and lives of others.
When Rusty appears, Russ consults a psychiatrist, but he denies that his past has a bearing on his present. "My childhood is in the past where it belongs," he tells her.
"But it doesn't want to stay in the past, does it?" she asks pointedly. "You are having these hallucinations for a reason . . . You need to find out what that reason is."
The young Rusty is appalled at what he becomes when we grows up. Rusty can't believe that Russ lives alone, isn't married, doesn't fly jets, and doesn't even have a dog.
"I grow up to be a loser!" he exclaims, adding, "I grow up to be a guy who doesn't know anything."
Russ has as little to do as possible with his father and the rest of the family, and he doesn't respond to the obvious love of a business associate, Amy (Emily Mortimer).
It's no surprise that Rusty helps Russ face a lot of issues from childhood that are far from actually forgotten. In his unconscious mind, Russ has strong, unsettled emotions involving family and boyhood peers, and it becomes clear that his own sense of self worth has been severely squelched by past events and actions.
But the story by Audrey Wells unfolds with some satisfying twists and integrity toward the characters and the situation. The story is a compassionate look at a familiar scenario -- an adult haunted by childhood memories.
A helpful friend of Russ's, Deirdre (Jean Smart) asks him, "How many of us grow up the way we think we will when we're kids? ... We just all do the best we can."
Russ's inner child champions the vital human spirit that Russ has lost track of in his efforts to deny the past -- primarily through worldly achievements and an unfeeling exterior.
Russ's destiny, however -- as is our own -- is to remember the goodness and the love that we are within. We all must become as little children and know our spiritual nature.
What happens when we deny or bury the goodness within? Look at Russ, or look at Phil in the film Groundhog Day. We keep stumbling until we get it right.
As Lao-tsu said, "If you don't realize the Source, you stumble in confusion and sorrow."