When Abe Applebaum was 12 years old he was the Kid Detective, everyone knew him. He solved all sorts of cases and was beloved by the town until his friend (and secretary) went missing. 20 years later, Abe is still a detective but now spends his days finding peoples’ cats or finding out whether someone is gay or not so the client can ask them out. Washed up and fed up, the town no longer believes that he’s the genius he used to think he was. But when a teenage girl asks him to solve her boyfriend’s murder, he’s thrown right back in the deep end and the past begins to catch up to him.
Like all detective stories, The Kid Detective hits those beats, ticks those genre boxes and of course keeps the same structure. A detective story lives and dies by its core plot and of course, the actual detective. Abe, played by Adam Brody, is a logical guy. His approach to his cases are matter of fact, he doesn’t swell on physical evidence like the police would, he goes deeper and looks at behaviour. His techniques have served him well until he’s presented with a murder case. He’s not out of his depth, he’s just bored. Like all troubled detectives, he drinks, is short on money and has a snarky assistant. Abe isn’t exactly unlike those who have come before him but he sets himself apart by being apathetic. He isn’t driven by women or men, his romantic/sex life is never mentioned. He isn’t controlled by his vices, he is haunted. The unsolved case of his missing friend troubles him and this is what drives him to help this new client, so much so that he takes the case for free. Abe is ultimately an anomaly.
Casting Adam Brody as the detective who’s known by his hometown when he was younger is perfect. No matter how many roles Brody plays, he’ll be forever remembered for portraying Seth Cohen in The O.C. Trying to shake that particular image and role is hard and that’s exactly what Abe struggles with. He partly wants to be remembered but also wants to shake off the kid-like image he has.
The conclusion of the case coincides with revelations of the past, which is to be expected the minute the film begins. There is a sour taste left in your mouth when the truth is revealed and set out, making Abe look and feel even more in shock but also not surprised. Without spoiling the movie too much, the story heavily borrows from other films especially right at the end, but it’s still not quite what you expect. As Abe monologues in his voiceover, another genre trope that thankfully is not overused, he summarises the after effects and how things are. But it is in the final shot of the film where Abe’s character is finally free. It’s a satisfying end to a good detective story.
Dir: Evan Morgan
Prd: Jonathan Bronfman, William Woods
Scr: Evan Morgan
Cast: Adam Brody, Sophie Nélisse, Wendy Crewson, Sarah Sutherland, Tzi Ma, Maurice Dean Wint, Peter MacNeill
DoP: Michael Robert McLaughlin
Music: Jay McCarrol
Running time: 97 minutes
The Kid Detective is available on streaming platforms from 15th March.