Film review: The Kid Detective

This debut feature packs an emotional punch


Former OC TV series heartthrob Adam Brody gives a strong and complex performance in writer-director Evan Morgan’s impressive debut feature The Kid Detective. Partly sleek neo-noir caper, partly quirky drama-comedy, the film packs a hell of a punch, delivering a lot more than its cute and innocuous premise would have you believe.

Thirty-one-year-old Abe Applebaum (Brody) has made a real mess of his life. As a child, Abe was nerdy yet popular, gaining approval from both his peers and their parents for his ingenious ability at crime solving. Today, however, Abe lives from one minor case to the next, whilst attempting to manage a debilitating drug and alcohol dependency whilst avoiding calls from his parents (Wendy Crewson, Jonathan Whittaker) to find a new job and get his life back in order.


Abe’s troubles stem from an incident that took place some 17 years earlier, a key but unsolvable case of his young career as a PI, concerning the disappearance of his best friend Gracie. Now, after years of wallowing in self-pity and guilt, Abe is finally given the chance to shine once again when a new client called Caroline (Sophie Nélisse) brings him his first serious case in years – a case which feels oddly familiar.

For a first feature, one must commend Morgan for crafting one of the most compelling neo-noirs of recent times, especially in his ability to skirt around some heavy subjects without a hint of contrivance. For his part, Adam Brody (Ready or Not, Shazam!) gives a heartfelt and at times moving turn as a young man struggling to shake off the thoughts of a childhood spent blaming himself. He presents Abe not so much as a loser, but rather as an emotionally stunted non-starter who has been deeply affected by his inability to help find his best friend.

The Kid Detective is an astute, beautifully layered first feature from Morgan. It feels both breezy and serious without ever over-egging hardboiled noir tropes. While it refuses to be purely a comedy or a drama, this is in its favour; it is both a funny yet undeniably devastating story about childhood trauma. Equal credit, though, should go to Brody, whose truly impressive delivery should once again cement him as one of the most accomplished actors of his generation, begging the question why hasn’t he been more prominent on our screen until very recently. 

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