American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
There is something I don't know about "The Kid and I." Although I could easily find it out, I have decided to write the review without knowing it. The movie is about a kid with cerebral palsy, whose favorite movie is "True Lies" with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and whose dream is to star in an action movie of his own. He wants to jump out of airplanes, beat up bad people and kiss a girl, and because his father is a millionaire, he gets his chance.
Here is what I don't know: Is Eric Gores, who plays the kid, really disabled, or is he an actor? I ask because the answer involves how we respond to the difference between documentary and fiction. The performance by Gores is so convincing that if he's an actor, it's an impressive achievement. If he's not an actor, then it's impressive in a different way, because he overcomes disabilities to create a character we believe and care about.
Ten seconds on the Internet, and I would know. But the answer would skew my review. If Eric Gores is an actor, we are looking at fiction. If he is disabled, then we are looking at a documentary in which a professional cast and crew interact with him. Or are we? Should it matter? That's where it gets tricky. Isn't a disabled actor as capable of playing a role in a movie as anyone else? Didn't the Italian neo-realists teach us that everyone has one role he can play perfectly, and that role is himself?
I think the most honest strategy, having put my cards on the table, is to review the film on its own terms. "The Kid and I," written by Tom Arnold and directed by Penelope Spheeris, doesn't sentimentalize the material, that's for sure. It begins as a dark comedy, with Bill Williams (Arnold) playing a has-been onetime movie star who is out of work and out of hope. He prepares a press release on his suicide and various other suicide notes, and then leaves his house to give away his clothes to a bum named Guy (Richard Edson). The bum follows him home and sabotages the suicide plans. Now Bill is still alive and has no money and no clothes, and the trade papers are reporting his death. This could be the set-up for a Preston Sturges story.