“The Kid & I” has the best intentions but the most exquisitely awful execution.
The fact that the movie is appearing in theaters is a marvel in itself. It seems better suited playing exclusively for family and friends, just like the hokey movie-within-the-movie. Both were crafted as gifts for Eric Gores, a young man with cerebral palsy and dreams of movie stardom.
(Yes, trashing “The Kid & I” is probably a cruel, callous act that guarantees admission to hell, but sitting through the film itself is just about as painful.)
Tom Arnold wrote “The Kid & I” and stars as a version of himself: an actor named Bill Williams who’s washed-up and suicidal 11 years after making it big as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s sidekick in the action flick “True Lies,” a role Arnold played in real life.
Just as Bill’s about to kill himself — the funniest part of the movie, only because he wonders whether he’ll make the Oscars’ dead-people montage — his agent (Henry Winkler) tells him he has a job. He’s been hired to write and star in a “True Lies” sequel with an exciting new actor: Gores, whose character’s name is Aaron but prefers to be called “A-Dog.”
Aaron’s father (Joe Mantegna) is the wealthy businessman bankrolling the project because “True Lies” is Aaron’s favorite movie and Arnold — er, Bill Williams — is his favorite actor.
Bill meets the enthusiastic young man and thinks it’s a put-on. You may think the entire movie is a put-on, but no such luck. It’s dripping with earnestness. (Gores has wanted to be an actor since age 6, and reportedly spent five years training at The Lee Strasberg School. He does exude a great deal of confidence.)
In no time, everyone gets in on making “Two Spies”: the random homeless guy who also functions as Bill’s only friend; Bill’s ex-wife (Linda Hamilton) who’s now a high-powered producer; even longtime director Penelope Spheeris who — guess what! — also directs “The Kid & I.”
Awkward cameos abound from Shaquille O’Neal and Eric Dickerson to Jamie Lee Curtis and — you guessed it — the governor of California himself.
After production starts with high-fives and feel-good cries of, “Let’s get this party started!” Bill is shocked to learn that “Two Spies” was never intended for theatrical release, only for viewing at Aaron’s 18th birthday party.
He took the gig because he needed money but — you know what’s coming — he learned something about life that’s far more valuable.
In case we couldn’t figure that out, Arnold actually wrote these lines for himself: “There’s more important things in life than money. You guys taught me that.”
Apparently that sentiment applied to the production values as well. With a look that’s stiff and slapped-together, plus a preachy and heavy-handed tone, this is a public service announcement masquerading as a movie.