- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Considering what “Catch That Kid” is, a third generation copy, it had all the potential of being unbearable.

On the surface, it’s a remake of a Danish movie, “Klatretosen,” which in turn was inspired by Robert Rodriguez’s “Spy Kids” franchise. What this “Kid” has going for it is a likable young star in Kristen Stewart, who played Jodie Foster’s daughter in “Panic Room.”

Here she is Maddy, a San Fernando Valley teenager with forbidden dreams of following in the mountaineering footsteps of her father (Sam Robards). When an old climbing injury of his becomes life-or-death urgent (The medical specifics are pretty thin, but I’m guessing 12-year-olds won’t mind.) and the family can’t afford the quarter-million for an experimental operation, Maddy springs into action.

Along with best friends Austin (Corbin Bleu), a computer geek, and mechanically inclined Gus (Max Thieriot), she plans a robbery of the downtown Los Angeles bank where her mother (Jennifer Beals) works as a security consultant. Its millions are kept in a safe suspended 100 feet from the vault’s floor, providing a nice excuse to continue with the mountaineering theme.

If that doesn’t grab you, boys, yawn not: There’s a go-cart chase. And girls, you have Kristen Stewart to root for. You can safely ignore the go-cart excitement if you so choose.

Now, adult readers, I assume you’re willing, for your children’s sake, to accept this movie’s what-are-you-smoking premise. Be forewarned, though, that “Kid” contains more than its share of bad jokes. (Scenes involving the bank’s idiotic security guards were particularly grating.)

This is not “Finding Nemo”; there’s no encrypted humor here waiting for adult minds to decipher.

And yes, that’s Jennifer Beals of “Flashdance.” Her acting skills have not become less laughable over the last 20 years. You’d think, too, that Mr. Robards — whose parents are no less than the late Jason Robards and Lauren Bacall — could find better work than this.

John Carrol Lynch gamely embarrasses himself as the Robert De Niro-imitating bank executive who witlessly paves the way for the heist, and Michael Des Barres, as the bank’s head honcho, takes greed-is-good smarminess to its outermost limit.

All that said, this is Kristen Stewart’s show. If I were about 13, I’m reasonably certain I would’ve found her, and her character, a delight. Maddy’s cohorts sure seemed to, as they fumblingly vie for her affections. She’s flinty, wise and brave — everything that adults should be, but never are, in action flicks for teens.

TITLE: “Catch That Kid”

RATING: PG (Mild action violence, crude humor)

CREDITS: Directed by Bart Freundlich. Produced by Andrew Lazar and Uwe Schott. Cinematography by Julio Macat. Original music by George S. Clinton. Screenplay by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, based on “Klatretosen” by Hans Fabian Wullenweber, Erlend Loe and Nicolai Arcel.

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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