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Critics reviews
The Kid
Charlie Chaplin United States, 1921
One marvels at how the gags seem fall into place, how adroit everyone—but especially six-year-old Jackie Coogan—is at physical comedy. Here, as in most of his films, Chaplin uses his fellow actors to construct an emotional universe in which the grandiose expressiveness of the Tramp makes sense. THE KID is a remarkable fusion of humor and sentiment, outdone only by Chaplin’s later CITY LIGHTS.
January 06, 2017
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The Kid reveals how closely Chaplin’s irreverent slapstick could be intertwined with his sentiment. And rather than simply making the Tramp more palatable to middle-class tastes of the day, Chaplin’s new emotional range provided the core of his lasting appeal.
February 18, 2016
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While The Kid could easily be chalked-up as a sentimental father-son reconciliation narrative, Chaplin’s persistent interest in the juxtaposition of technology and tradition deepens the quality of the film’s convictions by complicating a conventional, melodramatic template.
February 16, 2016
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In The Kid, [Chaplin] invests his flair for perfect comic timing with sweetness—especially in regard to the relationship between the Tramp and the boy, much imitated by later films—and the sadness with a fleeting happy moment, which he would go on to do better than anyone else in the history of the medium. The film’s best gags are also its most poignant, like the flophouse scene in which the Tramp tries to hide the boy so that they can share a bed for a dime.
February 13, 2016
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It remains one of [Chaplin’s] very best and funniest films, a worldwide smash in 1921 and irresistible to this day. [It also] explicitly announced Chaplin’s desire for something more than comedy. The Kid is the feature film debut of a man who was already world-famous, and it offers further proof (if any were needed) that the comic was also a true filmmaker.
September 10, 2012
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The Kid, on the other hand, is a much simpler and less vexed kettle of fish [than The Great Dictator]… Frankly, it plays rather like a short with padding, as witness the scene below from a dream sequence near the end of the film—a scene that distracts quite a bit from the film’s central tear-jerking dramatic question, which is whether the Tramp will be able to continue to care for the film’s titular abandoned child.
June 15, 2010
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Chaplin showed a real flair for being able to blend comedy and drama cohesively as far back as Keystone and A New Janitor, his various experimenting leading up to this feature. In the structure of The Kid, a particularly moving scene would be immediately followed by a wildly funny gag, while never losing any sense of rhythm. It was a daunting exercise and comes off perfectly.
March 01, 2008
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The most Dickensian of Chaplin’s features (1921), with a Victorian street atmosphere and a sentimentality to match. Still, the scene in which Charlie searches the poorhouses for his lost boy (Jackie Coogan) is powerfully moving; I have never known a silent film to speak quite so clearly as in Chaplin’s mimed call of “Kid! Kid!”
January 01, 1980
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