The Kid Detective
The Kid Detective (2020) movie review
The Kid Detective stars Adam Brody as Abe Applebaum, a former childhood detective turned alcoholic adult still solving the same simple crimes and mysteries. However he is finally given a chance to prove himself when a new client hires him to solve her boyfriend’s murder. Written and directed by Evan Morgan, The Kid Detective was released just this past week to predominantly positive reviews. (Seeing as it has less than 100 user ratings on IMDb.)
The Kid Detective is yet another example of an original independent film that arguably would not have seen a wide release if it weren’t for COVID. And unlike last week’s other theatrical entry Honest Thief, this one is worth checking out! It is either a funny drama or an often serious comedy, and if you aren’t keen on that dry blend of tone, you may not enjoy this one. However if you’ve ever seen an indie film, chances are you’ll like this too!
The story setup is fairly straightforward, yet smart. The film takes a stab at detective shows like Monk (2002-2009) and Psych (2006-2014) by obviously flipping the tonal script and having its titular ‘kid detective’ as almost the town outcast by this point in his life. This allows a strong setup for both a twisty story and driven character development, as more than a few detective films lack. The story is also small enough to work, with no grand conspiracy to take the spotlight away from the small town in which the film is set.
This does lead to a few clichés throughout the film that come with the territory of the mystery genre. I was hoping that a film as clever as this would help subvert expectations when it came to the plot, not just the protagonist. The film does a good job changing up the formula elsewhere, using comedy to keep the audience on their toes as it casually throws away what we thought would be important.
Of course one thing that sets the film ahead is the more than competent quality of filmmaking on display. The cinematography is sharp, the editing is motivated, and the score from Jay McCarrol is wonderfully noir! Yet these elements over a throwback to classic mystery thrillers without ever feeling distracting. Keeping your style choices in check to lend the focus towards your story is a respectable choice, and one that I think sets this film ahead of other detective comedies like The Cheap Detective (1978) and the like. (Granted this film is a dramedy, so it is a bit hard to compare.)
The finale is where my favorite and least favorite aspect of this film comes to light. I adore the film’s tone, and Adam Brody and the res of the supporting cast all do an incredible job keeping the film just dry enough to take seriously without ruining the humor. So the film is a hilarious watch, with enough drama thrown in to really land the severity of the case that he now has to solve with a very limited skill-set. However the finale has one moment of acting for one of the characters that made me question the themes the film was trying to portray. And you know what, for the life of me I don’t know! So I thought that was a very strange choice considering the consistent tone throughout.
To bring this case to a close, The Kid Detective is a solid watch for any mystery fans or those who like their indie comedies marvelously blunt! The film does have a few expected story beats, and while the tone is mostly strong, it ends on a weird note even for this movie. However I think it is more than worth it anyway, as the blend of the noir style with the perfect balance of comedy and drama craft a film that feels even more original than it should! 7/10.
So The Kid Detective? Have you seen it? What did you think? And what is your all time favorite detective comedy? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, let us know in the comments what you’d like us to review next!
-review by Ryan Prince