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Movie Review

Catch That Kid is being marketed as yet another Spy Kids or Agent Cody Banks look-alike, but it actually has more to do with thorny ethical dilemmas and adolescent angst than high-tech, James Bond-style stunts. Maddy, age 12, loves two things: climbing and her family. She is especially close to her dad, whose gutsy example of mastering Mount Everest inspires her to strap on a harness and scale the local water tower day after day—much to her parents' dismay.

Why the disapproval? During that Everest trek, Maddy's dad took a massive fall that injured him so badly he needs experimental surgery with a hefty $250,000 price tag or he could be paralyzed for the rest of his life. Of course, Maddy and her mom don't have that kind of cash. But Maddy thinks she has a solution. She and her friends, Austin and Gus—who are completely smitten with her—are going to rob a bank. And not just any bank. They're going to steal from the bank for which Maddy's mom designed the security system.

Positive Elements

Maddy's family is very close. Maddy greatly admires her father and wants to emulate his example. She's also willing to do anything she can to help her dad get better. Dad, in turn, makes it clear that he doesn't want her climbing because he is concerned for her physical wellbeing. He also tells his wife that he won't let her busy schedule damage their relationship. Gus and Austin offer to sell their possessions and raise support to pay for the surgery. They also decide to help Maddy in a moment of need, even after learning that she has two-timed them. [Spoiler Warning] The local community financially rallies around Maddy's dad in the nick of time.

Spiritual Content

After having his go-cart hastily fixed during a race, Gus' brother hisses to the mechanic, "You'd better pray this works." When describing his fall from Everest's peak, Maddy's father says, "Somebody or something was looking after me." A security guard tells a young protégé that a huge bank of security monitors is "the eye of God."

Sexual Content

The film's most troublesome aspect is how Maddy uses her attractiveness to exploit Austin and Gus. In order to ensure they'll help her with the heist, she kisses each without the other knowing, pledging her love. That nasty bit of manipulation is magnified when she tells a reticent Gus, "I love you, now do what I say." Naturally, the guys uncover her trickery, but they eventually let the incident slide without consequence. A horrible example, especially for young girls.

Also, a completely inappropriate and unnecessary scene finds the trio lying in the same waterbed during a sleepover. One character tells another not to get his "panties in a wad." A slinky lady showing lots of thigh and cleavage makes out with the bank's manager in a secluded office.

Violent Content

Several tense moments revolve around Maddy's acrobatic climbing stunts. The film opens to her plummeting off the water tower only to be stopped by her safety rope just before she smacks into the ground. When trying to break into the vault, Maddy nearly falls several times, finally catching herself by the tips of her fingers. Her stricken dad collapses. One go-cart falls apart in a gout of smoke. Another is crushed by a pursuing car. Gus crashes one into a group of water-filled barrels while test driving the zippy little machines, and cops chase the carts though crowded city streets.

Gus' brother angrily wrestles with him. Gus accidentally burns his arm on a hot grill. A cruel guard immolates a spider with a stun baton. He later threatens Maddy, Gus and Austin with the weapon. Another sentry gets smacked in the crotch with a nightstick. Austin is chased by dogs and later the whole group gets pursued by ferocious canines. Two people are shocked into unconsciousness (one of the incidents is played for laughs).

Crude or Profane Language

One occurrence each of the word "d--n" and the crass acronym "S.O.L.," plus about a half-dozen misuses of God's name. Crude retorts such as "retard," "dorkus," "stupid," "loser," "buttmunch," "maggot" and "sucks" pop out of many characters' mouths.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Austin "accidentally" calls a rottweiler a "Budweiser." Champagne appears at a posh party.

Other Negative Elements

Catch That Kid is a classically pragmatic, the-end-justifies-the-means manifesto. Any number of sinful deeds—from theft to manipulation to disobedience—are A-OK if they're needed to help Maddy's dad. It's no surprise deceit becomes a prime tool. Maddy lies to her mother about her climbing. Gus pretends that a burn on his arm was inflicted by an abusive stepfather in order to get a secretary to give him floor plans for the bank. Austin lies about being a video producer so he can get access to a dog breeding facility. Maddy slyly talks a security code out of the bank manager. Even Maddy's mom concocts a wild story to cover up her daughter's scheme and excuses her lawbreaking by praising her for having a good heart.

Scatological humor centers around flatulence and burping. A brief snippet from The Simpsons shows a character taking photos of his naked rear.


"Security alert! ... Do something! ... Do something now!" Catch That Kid is the kind of movie where it doesn't even strike you as odd when that laughable phrase emanates from a so-cutting-edge-it'll-make-you-bleed security computer (à la HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey). It's also the kind of film in which kids can crack super-sophisticated safes without breaking a sweat, police cars blow tires after running over strategically placed jacks (the tiny metal objects one scoops up while bouncing a rubber ball!), and just about all adults are caricatures of either cruelty or stupidity.

Its moral content isn't any classier. There might not be rampant profanity, explicit violence or naughty nudity, but children who watch this kiddie criminal caper will get a 92-minute primer on situation ethics and will learn it's perfectly fine for women to crassly manipulate star-struck males. A miserably failure artistically and ethically.

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