Forget potty-training, teenage drama, and the SATs: as any discerning New York parent knows, the trickiest part of child-rearing is getting your offspring into the elite kindergarten of your choice. The interviews, the coaching, the tests: in A Kid Like Jake—Daniel Pearle’s new family drama, now playing at LCT3—it’s enough to make a well-meaning family implode.
Jake’s high-strung mom (Carla Gugino) and befuddled dad (Peter Grosz) need to dazzle the city’s most exclusive grade schools. But should they broadcast what really makes Jake different? Their kid loves Legos, junk food—and princesses. His favorite toy is a Cinderella figurine, his preferred Halloween costume is Snow White. Is Jake a budding transsexual, a future drag superstar, or just a four-year-old who appreciates the Brothers Grimm? These are intriguing questions, especially in an era when even young teenagers can alter their gender identities. How young is too young to know yourself?
Unfortunately, Pearle mostly avoids these questions in favor of endless screaming matches between Jake’s progenitors and his preschool principal (Caroline Aaron). Tears flow, accusations fly, and the evening becomes as tedious as a private-school parents’ night. Watching his mom and dad squabble, I had to conclude that Jake wasn’t the only one not mature enough to start kindergarten.