The Kid Detective Review TIFF 2020

The Plot

A once celebrated and respected kid detective, now 31, continues to solve the same trivial mysteries between hangovers and bouts of self-pity. Until a naïve young client offers him a daunting last chance at redemption by hiring him to solve her boyfriend’s brutal murder.

The Good

The Kid Detective has a unique and wildly enjoyable tone that seamlessly blends playfully wry and self-aware comedic charm with unashamedly serious film noir drama. It’s a simple premise that expertly juxtaposes the quaint small-town setting and quirky inhabitants with the typically gritty motifs of gumshoe detective drama.

There’s something deeply poetic about Adam Brody’s casting in the role as washed up child prodigy Abe Applebaum. As an actor who has actually faced the potentially crushing weight of his own overwhelming adolescent achievements. As a star of the wildly popular teen dramedy The OC, his own career since has been forged under the shadow of that overnight sensation status. It lends an extra dimension of sincerity to watching an evidently jaded man struggle to forge a legitimately adult identity in the wake of ever fading pubescent glory. His eternally youthful face is more weatherworn and authentically aged, having evolved from a relentless teenage quip machine into a more subtle and likeably restrained charm.

Brody’s note perfect performance captures the fragile and fundamentally broken nature of the character. Traumatised by very real pain and striving desperately for some form of closure. His legitimately young co-star Sophie Nelisse is by contrast a wide eyed delight as Caroline, the girl who places an unlikely amount of trust in the former boy wonder. The pair work excellently together in giving the film a playful whimsical tone without ever being outright silly or childish.

Watching Brody’s well-intentioned detective tactlessly interrogating high schoolers and sneaking awkwardly around suburban homes could have quickly descended into ridiculousness, but there’s something sincerely heartfelt about this story and the film makes devastating shifts into truly gripping suspense thriller.

This film is not just a simple slice of whimsical comedy, it’s also a legitimate Sherlockian mystery that shockingly sucker punches audiences with astonishingly devastating denouements.

The Bad

It’s exceedingly rare to have nothing bad to say about a film. This is one such occasion. Some may find the film’s basic premise off-putting or assume the films early flashes of childishness are all it has to offer. But I urge those people to give the film a chance. It is so much more than you think and a legitimately rewarding adult experience.

The Ugly Truth

The Kid Detective is a sensational slice of cinematic genius packed with wit, heart and charm. Adam Brody and Sophie Nelisse are a perfect pairing that take audiences from fits of giggles to stunned gasps. It’s difficult to do justice to just how special and truly original this film is. It is undoubtedly one of the finest gifts of this year’s Toronto Film festival and a must see future cult classic.

Review by Russell Nelson

Leave A Comment