Danny Aiello’s considerable talents are wasted in “Me and the Kid,” a trivial comedy-adventure about the friendship between a con man and a lonely upper-class kid. Pandering to children’s wildest dreams, comedy may appeal to this age group , though parents may resent a film that describes the entire adult world as witless and insensitive.
“Home Alone” would have been a more accurate title for this pedestrian item, as hero Gary Feldman (Alex Zuckerman), an isolated rich kid in an upscale New York suburb, doesn’t even go to school. Instead, his self-absorbed parents (David Dukes and Anita Morris) have arranged for a personal tutor, a nice housekeeper and a battery of doctors to take care of his various allergies and ailments.
An odd couple of con men, Harry (Aiello) and Roy (Joe Pantoliano), break into this insulated, boring life, aiming to rob the father’s safe, only to find it empty. The more aggressive Roy impulsively kidnaps the kid , and a road adventure — of the most familiar kind — ensues.
But the precocious boy turns out to be brighter than Roy and just as shrewd as Harry. In fact, as soon as he discovers Harry’s weak spot — human compassion and the good heart of a Santa Claus — he manipulates him and the situation. Being a kidnap victim and on the run with such a charismatic criminal proves to be greater fun than he has ever experienced, and Gary’s allergies and phobias disappear.
Preposterous ending amorally suggests that socializing with a con man and running away to Mexico is more alluring — and educational — than going to school or staying at home with uncaring parents.
Making his feature debut, TV helmer Dan Curtis (“The Winds of War,””War and Remembrance”) turns in work that is just serviceable. Using fast tempo in pic’s first part, Curtis succeeds in concealing what is basically a fraudulent tale.
As the good-hearted slob, Aiello brings his customary charm and authority to the kind of role that 20 years ago would have been played by Walter Matthau, and 60 years ago by Wallace Beery. But the real revelation is red-haired Zuckerman, whose unaffected acting in his second film (after “Hook”) makes up for routine picture’s shortcomings.
The always reliable Pantoliano, Moriarty, Dukes and Morris all have stereotypical parts that make them appear and sound ridiculous.