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Wayback Wednesday: Catch That Kid (2004)

If all bank robberies were this convenient to pull off I would be leading a radically different lifestyle right now. 

For this week’s Wayback I wanted to delve into the depths of my youth and revisit a movie I used to watch A LOT but haven’t seen in many years. I’m talking about the kind of movie I would rent so often from Blockbuster that my brother would say, “really, again?” So, scrolling through Disney+ I decided that I was going to watch either Sky High (2005) or Catch That Kid (2004). I remember both movies being a lot of fun, the embodiment of wish fulfillment for children, and not strictly a kiddie movie, but something the whole family could enjoy together. I rolled the dice and took a chance with Catch That Kid. Why? Because the runtime was eight minutes shorter than Sky High. I swear that was the only way I could decide! Having now been reintroduced to Catch That Kid all I have to say is that I should have chosen Sky High. This was a big mistake. Huge. 

Credit: / Richard Foreman / 20th Century Fox

A remake of the Danish movie, Klatretøsen (2002), Catch That Kid follows Maddy, a 12-year-old girl who loves to climb. When her father Tom suffers aftereffects from an injury he sustained on a climb of his own years earlier, he becomes paralyzed from the neck down and in need of a $250,000 surgery. Desperate for the money to help her father, Maddy and her two friends Gus and Austin plan to rob the bank where Maddy’s mom works.

Okay, first of all was I the only one who had no idea this movie was based on a well-received Danish movie? How did that go right over my head as a child? I suppose I was always so eager to get to the go-kart scenes that I let the opening credits wash right over me. Apparently I used to let the rest of the movie wash over me as well because I honestly do not remember Catch That Kid being this terrible. Of course I never thought it was particularly sensational, but I thought that my 2021 eyes would at least find the movie silly and fun. Oh no, not the case at all. I would even go as far as to declare that Catch That Kid is devoid of fun of any kind.

I can honestly say without any hyperbole that during the entirety of Catch That Kid’s reasonable hour and 32 minutes, I did not have fun, I did not laugh, and I did not care. At all. As far as kid’s movies go, the premise for Catch That Kid is solid. Riding on the coattails of Spy Kids (2001), this movie should have been a blast! Unfortunately the execution is just so bland and lacklustre that the whole movie falls flat on its face. If the movie were 50 per cent funnier, had 50 per cent more exciting action, and had a story that you 100 per cent cared about more, Catch That Kid could have been a contender. There needed to be more of a set up of why three kids robbing a bank was the ONLY way to save her dad. The stakes needed to be higher and more dire. Like, okay, Tom is paralyzed…that’s definitely bad but at least he’s alive? Could he not live his same life but paralyzed? I mean, he owns a go-kart track. It’s not like he’s a firefighter or a football player. He can still live his life, right?

Of all the parts of Catch That Kid that I found dull and borderline unbearable, it was any scene featuring the brainless security guards bumbling their way from one scene of physical comedy to another that was by far the worst. This may come as a shock, but the performances in Catch That Kid are not great. Some may even call them a struggle to endure. That being said, Kristen Stewart is by far the best of the child actors. You know, I always forget that Stewart was in a handful of movies as a young actress before Twilight (2008) catapulted her to fame. Though that franchise didn’t do a good job of highlighting her talents, I’ve come to realize that Stewart is actually a skilled actress. Her performance in Still Alice (2014) low-key moved me. As Maddy, Stewart is doing the very best that any 13-year-old actress could do with a script as flimsy and transparent as this one. Honestly, she gives the best performance by default simply because in the more dramatic scenes where Maddy is concerned about her father, I actually believed Stewart as a child struck by the harsh truth that their parent is not invincible. Kudos to Stewart.

I suppose Stewart’s co-stars, Max Thieriot and Corbin Bleu deliver far more forgettable performances because they’re burdened by the “I’m in love with Maddy” storyline. A storyline which should have been dropped the minute the director discovered that not a single one of these children has any chemistry, romantic or otherwise, with each other. It’s hard to believe that these two went on to star in such fun movies as, The Pacifier (2005) and High School Musical (2006). ‘Cause wow, are they boring. Thank God for good ol’ John Carroll Lynch. A fantastic co-star who always understands the assignment, I’m consistently blown away by his ability to play the creepiest of maniacs or the dopiest of sweethearts. 

I can’t believe Catch That Kid is a real movie. It feels like a Disney Channel Original Movie except with a SLIGHTLY larger budget and much worse quality. Every heist movie, even the not so great ones, at the bare minimum have a shred of inherent entertainment value but not this one. Like, just watch National Treasure (2004), The Italian Job (2003) or Spy Kids. Any is a better option than Catch That Kid. Spy Kids may be a whole lot sillier than this movie but at least it stands firmly in its silliness and is much more entertaining. As I get older and revisit more of the movies I used to watch as a kid, I’m beginning to realize that it’s the movies that had competent directors, screenwriters, production designers, and actors that stand the test of time. Who knew, right? Movies like Addams Family Values (1993), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), and What a Girl Wants (2003). By the way, check out my review for that movie, here

Credit: / Richard Foreman / 20th Century Fox

Catch That Kid is like The Italian Job in the same way that East Side Mario’s is authentic Italian food. And that really should be all you need to know about the quality of this forgettable movie. If you’re thinking about revisiting a movie from your childhood, please, do what I should have done and choose to watch Sky High. Avenge me and the hour and 32 minutes I can never get back.

Do you enjoy Catch That Kid?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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