Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Kid (1921)

Charlie Chaplin films are unique gems in so many ways, but part of the charm is that there are memorable standalone scenes that can be enjoyed outside of the context of the entire film. For me, it seems like there are a handful of Chaplin films I know I've seen scenes from but haven't seen start to finish. But, I can cross one of those off my list, having watched The Kid (1921). This film has been on the list for a bit, in part because it's was one of the top 250 films I haven't seen yet.

In reading reviews and commentary of this film it's clear that the charm the key words are "pathos" and "comedy" and the way Charlie Chaplin creates a comedy with a string of emotional punches. The film is the story of the tramp who through a comedy of errors finds himself raising (and lovingly caring for) an abandoned orphan. That abandoned orphan character is 5 years old for the bulk of the film and played by Jackie Coogan, who's extensive acting career extended all of his life, and is such a wonderful foil this film matching him in comedy and drama.

I was able to rope my 8 and 10 year old into watching with me, and felt that it held their attention (especially the 10 year old), and if there is any critique it's the dream sequence at the end which seems like fluffy, insincere, and unnecessary -- there's probably a little bit of "wow" factor for some cinemagic of flight in this scene, but for such an otherwise touching comedy, this was unnecessary fluff that seemed like an attempt to extend the reel of a generally simple (but enjoyable story).

But, I'll try to forget that, and instead remember the kid boxing scene, the sneaking the kid into the flophouse, the pancake scene, or the scene with the make shift ways the tramp cares for the baby.

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