Catch That Kid

on February 06, 2004 by Sheri Linden
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Three young teens thwart a state-of-the-art security system to rob a bank--all for a good cause, naturally--in "Catch That Kid," director Bart Freundlich's first kids' pic. He shows a lighter touch than in such ponderous fare as "World Traveler," but, as with that Billy Crudup starrer, the story never really adds up. Based on the 2002 Danish hit film "Klatretosen" (a.k.a. "Catch That Girl"), the caper features a trio of likable kids, with lead Kristen Stewart ("Panic Room") conveying smarts, strength and vulnerability.

Maddy is a 13-year-old who's inherited a passion for climbing from her dad (Sam Robards) and is hellbent on helping when an old injury incapacitates him. The only solution is experimental surgery that costs $250,000 and, in a nod to the source material, is available only in Denmark. Maddy's hard-working mom (Jennifer Beals) has no luck securing a loan, even from the financial institution whose security system she's designing, and Maddy masterminds a plot to steal the money from the very same bank. Enlisting her two best friends, computer hacker/filmmaker Austin (Corbin Bleu) and mechanical whiz Gus (Max Thieriot), she knows how to use their rivalry for her affections to keep them committed to the job. The incredible highjinks involve go-carts, Rottweilers and Maddy's most dangerous climb yet, to a safe suspended 100 feet above the ground. Much of it makes no sense but is a good excuse for nifty high-tech visual effects.

Among the generally clueless adults, some are good-natured (bank employee John Carroll Lynch), some evil (bank executive Michael Des Barres), some insane (James Le Gros, giving it his all as a gung-ho buffoon of a security guard, with so-so results). To its credit, the film doesn't condescend to kids as it balances drollery and slapstick, offering wry touches aimed at adults and drumming up a modicum of suspense. But it's bland and unconvincing when conforming to the family-pic message du jour, with Beals' workaholic parent vowing to spend more time with her daughter. Starring Kristen Stewart, Corbin Bleu, Max Thieriot, Jennifer Beals, Sam Robards, John Carroll Lynch, James Le Gros, Michael Des Barres and Stark Sands. Directed by Bart Freundlich. Written by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas. Produced by Andrew Lazar. A Fox 2000 release. Family/Adventure. Rated PG for some language, thematic elements and rude humor. Running time: 91 min

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