In his famous essay on Casablanca, Umberto Eco explained that film’s appeal in terms of the interplay—the “conversation”—among its numerous platitudes. “Two clichés make us laugh,” he writes, “A hundred clichés move us.” An apt characterization, perhaps, of the experience of taking in Michael Curtiz’s classic, but it scarcely speaks to the majority of films comprised of hackneyed narrative tropes. It certainly doesn’t characterize Miguel Necoechea’s The Kid: Chamaco, a decidedly unmoving boxing picture which gives us, for starters, such played-out creations as the ghetto kid from an abusive family who sees sports as the way out, the washed-up prize-fighter looking for one more chance, and the do-gooder atoning for a past mistake. Necoechea’s film, a U.S.-Mexican co-production starring Alex Perea as young would-be boxing champ Abner alongside such American stalwarts as Martin Sheen and Michael Madsen, is so determined to juggle as many narrative elements as possible that it never properly focuses on any single one. Instead, we’re treated to subplots involving Abner’s meth-addicted girlfriend and a romance between his prostitute sister and his trainer that leads to a scene of such melodramatic absurdity that it negates any remaining shred of narrative credibility the film had managed to retain.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 4, 2010