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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Believe in how you see yourself instead of how the world sees you.
Positive Role Models
Abe uses curiosity and perseverance to solve crimes, but overall he's not much of a role model.
Violence & Scariness
A character is beaten up at a bar. Viewers are told about a teen who is stabbed to death, one who was kidnapped. Implication of a recurring sexual crime to a minor and references to pedophile activities. Suicide, with blood.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Photograph of a nude woman (breasts exposed) who is supposed to be a teen. A man is completely naked, his backside revealed. Sex act is described literally.
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Strong language includes several uses of "s--t" and "f--k." "Jesus!" used as an exclamation.
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Products & Purchases
A Chrysler LeBaron convertible is shown repeatedly, but it doesn't come off as particularly cool.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Upon discovering an unknown drug that's a clue, the detective takes it and likes how it makes him feel -- so he takes it a second time (after he's been warned it's addictive). Bong shown on the table at a small gathering. Smoking, including by a teen. Constant drinking to demonstrate depression and feeling like a failure.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Kid Detective is a comedic mystery about what happens to a prodigy who's burdened by high expectations. Abe Applebaum (Adam Brody) gained notoriety as a child detective who failed when he wasn't able to solve the mystery of his best friend's disappearance. As an adult, he's somewhat of a town joke, and he wallows in his self-doubt and self-pity by drinking heavily; drug paraphernalia is also seen. He takes a murder case involving a high school honors student. Subjects like teen sex, suicide, drug dealing, and homelessness are touched on, but the only character actually taking drugs is Abe. One joke involves him hiding while searching for evidence and getting trapped in a little girl's closet -- when he's caught, the town believes he's a pedophile. Characters smoke, including an older teen girl who's briefly seen nude in a photo. A naked man's bare backside is also shown, and sex is described. Strong language includes "s--t" and "f--k." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
With humor that's wry, dry, and sly, this mystery spins on reexamining the private detectives of the past by looking at them in a contemporary light. There's no doubt that young Abe Applebaum is supposed to be Encyclopedia Brown: His name sounds like it comes straight from Donald J. Sobol's books (the first one is even titled Boy Detective), as do the types of small-time cases he solves. And, just as Brown's bestie/assistant was 14-year-old Sally Kimball, Abe's is 14-year-old Gracie Gulliver -- and when she goes missing, he believes everyone expects him to find her. What would happen to a "boy genius" if everyone in a child's community, including adults, acknowledged that he was an exceptional prodigy, but then he failed to achieve when it really mattered? It's an astute concept, and it's easy to make the leap to the pressures that society can place on kids who excel.
Adult Abe glumly goes about his life, following a repetitive daily routine, spiraling in depression, and drinking whiskey for breakfast and dinner. His morose approach is reminiscent of Sam Spade and other gumshoes from the years of classic cinema. This connection might be lost on 21st century teens, but placing the story in a high school setting -- where Abe is sorely out of his element -- helps make The Kid Detective entertaining for both parents and teens. On the other hand, an honors student getting savagely murdered is pretty dark, as are some of the clues Abe turns up. While staying comically nimble, the movie's themes are mature. Still, it holds a worthwhile message for teens. Abe doesn't solve the mystery of how to to grow up painlessly, but, by the movie's end, he offers a clue.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.