Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Imagine you become a celebrated child genius without finding out your “why.” You have to carry the weight of a talent, which you might not want to pursue. You have to handle that fame as a kid because if you don’t handle it, you’re going to blow it and it’s all gone. Your days are then spent in creating that fame again and it’s a tedious game. It builds depression and doubts in your path. This is what happens with Detective Abe in The Kid Detective. Once a celebrated kid detective, now lives in depression, trying to regain his honor but failing miserably.
Written and Directed by Evan Morgan, The Kid Detective solely follows the story of Detective Abraham Applebaum (Adam Brody). Abe was a star in his local town who due to his keen observation and memory can solve any trivial case. The cases involved petty issues like animal rescue, minor robberies, and school locker details. Even the principal of Abe’s school gave him cases to pry on the school kids who spoiled the campus.
Abe’s stardom was at the zenith when one day, suddenly, his teenage secretary and the daughter of the town’s mayor, Gracie disappeared. Everyone was hopeful that Abe would find her, but Abe disappointed the town. His own disappointment complemented with the rejection of his genius by the people pushed Abe into a void, after which he wasn’t able to solve any case with precision.
Abe, now an adult man of 31 years old, stays in a shared rented apartment away from his parents. He meets day’s end by helping his clients with animal rescue and other petty cases that pay enough to sustain. Abe is frustrated and depressed. He lives on anti-depression drugs and everyone in town hates him. He is often beaten up by a lad whom he snooped upon in childhood and got him expelled from the school. In short, he lives in a mess surrounded by mess.
Luckily Abe gets a chance to redeem himself, when a teenage girl, Caroline hands a murder case to him. Will Abe be able to find the real mystery around the murder of Caroline’s boyfriend, or he will fail again proving the town that his childhood prodigy was just a fluke.
Dramatically, The Kid Detective is a twisted tale. It makes you believe that Detective Abe might have been lucky as a kid. Something farcical that the kid took seriously and is now spoiling his life. Abe’s parents and everyone in this town believe this. In some scenes, the doubt on Abe’s face is visible too and Adam Brody has played that subtext really well. But Abe is living in denial, he doesn’t want to accept the fact that his celebration as a kid detective was accidental. Thus, the character of Abe is living in duality. His duality is sometimes so heavy that to get rid of this dilemma, he takes refuge in a shelter called drugs.
The narrative brilliantly handles all these internal conflicts really well. However, the external conflicts don’t create much of an impact in the story which might be a reason why the story loses its grip. Only if a conflicted Abe was put in different scenarios with a more engaging plot, he could have got some ground to show his real brilliance.
A layer in the story that really creates a chain of thoughts as a viewer is that it wasn’t Abe’s own failure that led to his downfall, but his age. People didn’t take him seriously and it was for this reason, he never got any exposure to exhibit his real talent. Abe was pushed into a box where he slowly started thinking that his genius was merely luck. This is also the major theme of the film. When Abe hunts for the murderer of Carlone’s boyfriend, he meets some old folks of his town. Through them, Abe learns that they never took Abe seriously in his childhood because he was a kid. Imagine the chief of police consulting a kid in the middle of a great crisis? The collective mentality of the town stole Abe’s light.
For Abe, he has been constantly cheering himself up saying, “I was the kid detective who never gave up.” In the end, it was Abe’s resilience that brought back his lost honour.
Watching a protagonist going through a full circle of emotions and an inspiring character arc is stimulating. The Kid Detective might not run on some heavy dramatic events or dense philosophy, yet it leaves a subtle impact on its audience. It is a simple tale, told with all the passion. It might not shake you or move you, but it is surely going to blow you in the end, or as Abe said,
“No matter how simple a case may seem, it’s always shocking what you find.”
The Kid Detective is available on Video on Demand.
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