Prayer Focus
Movie Review

Catch That Kid

MPAA Rating: PG for some language, thematic elements and rude humor

Reviewed by: Steffen Siegrist

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids and Families
Action Adventure, Comedy and Crime/Gangster
1 hr. 42 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Featuring: Kristen Stewart (“Cold Creek Manor”, Panic Room)
Corbin Bleu
Jennifer Beals (“Runaway Jury”, “Flashdance”)
Max Theiriot
Sam Robards (“A.I.: Artificial Intelligence”, “Life as a House”)
Director: Bart Freundlich (“World Traveler”, “The Myth of Fingerprints”)
Producer: Andrew Lazar (“Confessions of a Dangerous Mind”, Death to Smoochy, “Cats and Dogs”, “Space Cowboys”)
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Copyright, 20th Century Fox
Relevant Issues
Copyright, 20th Century Fox

“Catch That Kid” is a fun, entertaining little movie with enough action to hold a child’s attention, enough bumbling adults to keep him or her amused and enough real-life situations to make the plot almost believable, at least for its target audience.

As with all movies written for children there are lessons to be learned. Unfortunately, the lessons in this film, while laudable are inherently flawed in the way they are presented.

The movie attempts to emphasize the importance of love of family, loyalty to friends and overcoming adversity. Where it falls short is that it presents these values as achieved by lying and conning not only strangers, but those closest to you.

The major characters are Maddy, a skilled climber, her friends, Gus, a mechanical marvel and Austin, a computer genius. Maddy’s mother, a Security Systems Designer for a large bank is gone most of the time. Her father, a good man from whom she gets her love for climbing, runs the local go-kart track.

The movie’s plot is not too complicated for children to grasp. Maddy’s dad suffers a sudden paralysis from a mountain climbing accident years earlier. Only an experimental operation in Sweden can restore the use of his legs. The cost of the operation is so high that Maddy enlists the help of her friends to rob the bank for which her mother has designed a security system.

Some of the plot elements are difficult to believe until one remembers the movie is written for children. Only in a child’s world would the senior vice president of a major financial institution reveal the security system’s access code to impress a pre-teen girl or an administrative assistant give away an expensive scale model of its building so that a little boy would have a suitable visual aid for a class project.

Using their individual skills and talents Maddy and her friends are able to devise a plan and assemble the equipment needed to break into the bank’s vault and steal the money necessary to pay for her dad’s operation.

The writers deserve a pat on the back for managing to keep the majority of the plot devises “clean.” There is an exciting chase scene with the police in which the only damage sustained is a set of tires on a police car. No one gets injured. No children are put into any sexually compromising situations. The only real villain in the movie, the bank president, reaps the justice due his heartlessness. The bank’s chief security guard, who unfortunately represents uniformed authority, is a bumbling fool who gets a much deserved taste of his beloved stun gun.

While there is no direct mention of God, Maddy’s father does credit “Someone or Something” with saving his life during his mountain climbing accident.

Overall, this is not a bad movie. Its only real flaw is that the major lesson it teaches its young audience is that the end justifies the means. From its opening scene with Maddy staying out of trouble by lying to her mother, through each of the children’s cons, to the use of a convenient ploy by one of the bank officials, to keep the children out of jail, the movie’s bad lessons outweigh the good lessons originally intended.

Moral lessons aside it is a fun movie.

Violence: Minor | Profanity: Minor | Sex/Nudity: None

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—I found myself taking notes during this stinker! To put a positive spin on it, it gave my husband and I an opportunity to talk about many moral issues with our children: Should girls lie to boys and use them to get what they want? Do you think we will lie for you if you break the law? Was Maddy a good babysitter? Do you think your dad would rather be crippled, or be able to walk and see you in jail? Overall, the production qualities were average, and the moral messages appalling.
My Ratings: [Average/2]
—Karen Thompson, age 42
Positive—…This movie does contain some rude humor and words such as “sucks,” “fart,” “Oh my G*d” and “butt.” There is a German attack dog command that is mispronounced by one of the kids, and it sounds like “a—farts.” Other offensive content may be a scene in which two adults are getting a little sensual (fully clothed), and the fact that the kids are committing theft and evading authority figures. In spite of this, it was refreshing to watch a movie and not hear a large amount of profanity, and it was great to see a married family. A lesson learned by Maddy’s mom is that she is working too much and needs to spend more time with her family. This movie is humorous, has plenty of action and will keep your attention. If you liked any of the “Spy Kids” movies, you will enjoy “Catch That Kid”!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/3]
—Brady Williams, age 34
Positive—I only found two areas of concern with this movie. The first was lying and being rewarded for it. Not just by the kids, but by the parents as well. And the second, to my surprise and delight was a concern posed by my seven year old daughter. The movie showed a scene with the girl and two boys laying in bed together side by side. They were fully dressed, but my daughter was very disturbed that girls should not lay in bed with guys, even if they are dressed.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4½]
—Robert MacDonald, age 42
Negative—Aside from kid’s lying, bad language, theft, sexual innuendo, manipulative behavior, and mother lying to cover daughter’s crime, the story wasn’t even for kids. The story: father becomes paralyzed, needs expensive surgery that insurance won’t cover, so daughter and 2 friends plan to steal the money from her mother’s employer—the new bank in town. It goes down hill from there—this is definitely not a “light hearted kids movie’. If you’re expecting something fun and family oriented like “Spy Kids” or even “Agent Cody Banks”—which has some questionable stuff in it—don’t waste your money on “Catch That Kid”—unless you need more “how not to behave” material to discuss with your kids.
My Ratings: [Average/2]
—Kimberly, age 40
Negative—This is basically a pretty lousy movie. It has very little humor, but instead is quite intense as it deals with the father’s injury and the impact it has on his family. Authority figures are cast in a negative light, the security and police are bumbling, but not in a funny way. The review is correct that the message is the end justifies the means. The girl manipulates her best friends to do what she wants. Some of the language is edgy, though not actual profanity. I would just skip this one.
My Ratings: [Average/2½]
—Wesley, age 40

Comments from young people
Negative—Thou shalt not steal. The entire movie is about breaking this commandment… The movie is filled with lying, manipulation, stealing, and an “ends justify the means” message that seems to tell kids it’s okay to steal, lie, and manipulate as long as it’s for a good cause… When both friends drop out of the game, Maddy uses her feminine wiles to get them back in, secretly saying to both of them that she loves them and asking them not to tell the other. A sickening aspect to me is that on the night of the heist Maddy brings her toddler brother along because she has to baby-sit him; which leads to him going through dangerous situations such as guard rottweilers, sliding down a garbage shoot and riding on an escape go-cart while fleeing the police.

On a positive note it teaches kids about loyalty to your friends when Gus and Austin, after learning about how Maddy tricked them, leave but then go back to help her. In the end everything works out well but still with all the whack things going on I think that they didn’t deserve it. I suppose that’s an example of grace (unmerited favor), but it’s a worldy one, not a godly one.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Katie F., age 12
Neutral—I found nothing offensive in this movie besides the fact that it was telling people that it is okay to rob a bank if someone in your family is in trouble. Besides that the movie was somewhat enjoyable.
My Ratings: [Average/3]
—Rebekah Nordine, age 13
Negative—I thought that this movie was so boring… I almost fell asleep…
My Ratings: [Good/1]
—Bethany, age 13
Movie Critics
…overbudgeted, child-empowerment fantasy that’s every bit as excruciating as the director’s previous work…
—Ben Kenigsberg, The Village Voice
…The story is harmless, cute, and perhaps too simple… Women always get their way…
—Norm Schrager,
…Even though this film contains no nudity, no profanity and not much violence, it is insidiously repugnant. The filmmaking is seductive because it’s so appealing, especially to children, which hides the despicable values it advocates…
—Tony Medley,
…parents should think twice about letting their children see this one due to moral dilemmas…
—Brian Hughes, Preview Family Movie and TV Review