February 9, 2004
Catch Me If You Care

catch.jpg
Catch That Kid Again: Something feels familiar... a little too familiar.

Catch That Kid snuck into theaters Friday with the stealth of an assassin. Usually, when a studio (in this case, 20th Century Fox) has a big budget action film, the add campaigns have all the subtlety of a SWAT team kicking in your door with guns drawn and screaming "Into the multiplex NOW, motherfucker!" I haven't seen a single commercial for Catch and I've read maybe one review. Perhaps the reason FOX is playing it so cool is that Catch That Kid already came out in 2002 and was a huge success.

Then again, that was in Denmark.

Catch That Kid is a remake of Klatretøsen (AKA, Catch That Girl), which won a handful of awards and delighted kids all over Europe with its Spy Kids-like tale of a tween bank heist. (Kids these days! First they're nicking comic books, then knocking off whole banks!)

Some studio could've simply dubbed Klatretøsen and released it in America. It might've been a minor hit in theaters and had a decent run on DVD, but that would've been too cheap an undertaking and would've cut too many middle men and women out the process. We're living in the startlingly barren Roy Lee era, where all it takes to be a "producer" is the reflexes to buy the American remake rights of successful foreign films and put together a deal with studios so bereft of talent and creativity, video games are considered primary texts to be treated with respect and care. (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is probably the nadir of this phenonenon, but definitely not the end. As long as there are Joseph Kahns and Brett Ratners, there will be films not worth seeing anytime soon.)

Of course, there have always been remakes of foreign films, but it was the exception, not the norm: Akira Kurosawa's Samurai film Shichinin no samurai (AKA, The Magnificent Seven) was remade as a Western starring the Mount Rushmore of machismo, Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, and Charles Bronson six years later. But Catch is different, if only for the speed of the remake.

It took about eighteen months from the release of Klatretøsen to bring Americans Catch That Kid: that's about how long it takes a big company like FOX to develop and shoot a movie. Catch is directed by Bart Freundlich, the not quite respected indie director and husband of Julianne Moore. Since it's first big budget, Hollywood film, he dragged James LeGros (who appeared in his first two movies, The Myth of Fingerprints and The World Traveler) as a security blanket.

That "kid" in the title is Kristen Stewart, whom you may have seen as Jodie Foster's diabetic daughter in Panic Room. Stewart, at 14, is either too androgynous or not yet touched by the glamorizing brush of a stylist to arouse the, um, interests of the Web's various Humbert Humbert manquŽs, which is why I find it strange that the poster attempts to make her look like Jennifer Garner's Mini-Me. The key to Stewart's appeal in Panic Room and Cold Creek Manor was her diffident tomboy-ishness, especially in comparison to her grotesquely-fetishized under-18 peers in Hollywood. Stewart's like a young Jodie Foster, before that actress took a turn with Taxi Driver. It'll be interesting to see how her career develops in the next few years.

Catch That Kid ranked number 6 at the box office this week, which doesn't bode well for other Scandinavian films sure to be remade for the American market. Will the American version of Lilja 4-ever starring Hilary Duff and directed by Larry Clark still fly? Time will only tell.

Posted in a Shallow fashion.

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