The Kid (1921) Film Review

The KidThe Kid, the classic Charlie Chaplin film, not the Disney movie starring Bruce Willis or any of the other movies that share the same name.  It is a silent film that is primarily a comedy filled with slapstick humor, but there are some dramatic moments that make the film slightly darker than I expected it to be.

The movie starts off with a woman carrying a newborn baby.  Well, it’s implied that it is a newborn since she is walking out of a hospital with him, but the baby is huge.  I guess using a fake baby was out of the question.  The movie then pans to another scene where an artist is standing in front of a fireplace.  On top of the fireplace is a picture of the woman seen earlier.  The picture falls and the artist just tosses it into the fire.  It is harsh, but it is great way of letting the audience know that the woman is a single mother.

Much like the father wanting nothing to do with the mother, the mother wants nothing to do with the newborn.  She places the baby in a stranger’s car and walks away.  This is a shocking and irresponsible move.  If only there was some way to get rid of an unwanted baby.  The situation gets even worse when the car gets stolen by a pair of thieves.  The thieves notice the baby and just leave it in an alleyway to presumably let it die.  Then Charlie Chaplin’s character, the Tramp, appears and everything is hilarious.

The movie jumps ahead five years.  The kid becomes a pawn in a shady business scheme and breaks windows for a window repair business.  He seems too young to be working, but I guess cultural expectations back then were slightly different.  Also, life at home seems a bit rough.  The Tramp can barely support himself let alone a kid.

The majority of the scenes with the Tramp and the kid are played for laughs.  The movie also jumps away to scenes of the kid’s mother and how her life has turned out.  While the scenes with the mother are not funny, it adds an interesting dynamic to the story as we discover whether or not she regrets her decision to leave her child.

Ultimately, there are some heavy-handed themes that I just was not expecting from The Kid.  Although the film was released in 1921, the themes regarding being a single parent still make The Kid relevant in today’s society.  These themes along with the previously unheard-of blend of comedy and drama is probably why The Kid is considered one of the best silent films of all time.  Clocking in at a little over an hour, The Kid is an easy silent film to get through and is worth watching.

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