Linda Cook review: It’s no mystery: ‘The Kid Detective’ is one of the year’s best

Movies

Despite its title, “The Kid Detective” is for grownups only.

One of the most clever, dark dramedies (think “Sunshine Cleaning”) to hit the big screen this year, this nod to detective movies from eras past has great wit, clever dialogue and interesting characters.

Abe Applebaum (Adam Brody, “Ready or Not”) was a small-town celebrity. He was a kid who solved every case brought before him for many years – that is, until a classmate went missing and never was found.

Now he’s a hard-drinking, disheveled has-been in his 30s who can’t seem to recover from his failure and has little direction in his life.

His parents worry about him. His secretary sneers at him.

Then a teenager (Sophie Nélisse, “47 Meters Down: Uncaged”) appears in his offie with a case: It seems someone has killed her boyfriend. Now Abe has a chance to redeem himself … maybe.

There’s a little humor here, quite a bit of character study, lots of mystery, and, toward the end, a stirring emotional scene.

Screenwriter/director Evan Morgan evenly balances all the elements and all the atmospheres into a tale that never wavers in its tone or its overall theme about the loss of innocense – not just for Abe’s client, but for so many of the characters.

All the actors brings depth to their roles, and every situation is a link in the mystery chain.

Never does it insult the intelligence of its audience, usually keeping one step ahead of the viewer and allowing quiet “little moments” reveal tidbits and, ultimately, the truth.

This is a gem of a movie – one of the best of the year – that’s well worth seeing on the big screen.

4 out of 4 stars

Rated: R for violence, foul language, nudity, sexual content and drug abuse.

Running time: One hour and 39 minutes.

At Cinemark, Davenport.

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