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Movie Review

'First Kid' Presides Over an Unruly State of Affairs

August 30, 1996|KEVIN THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It would take Chelsea Clinton to verify how accurate "First Kid" is in its depiction of an only child living in the White House with the president and first lady as loving but ultra-busy parents. From all reports Chelsea has a busy life of her own, and the president and first lady make sure they spend time with her. This is not the case with Brock Pierce's neglected Luke Davenport, the morose 13 1/2-year-old son of near-future fictional President Davenport (James Naughton) and his wife Linda (Lisa Eichhorn), who are caring but preoccupied.

In his unhappiness and isolation Luke has turned into a nasty piece of work who loves nothing better than making the life of the Secret Service agent (Timothy Busfield) assigned to him as miserable as his own. But Luke's life is turned upside down when he gets a new agent--Sinbad's Sam Simms--who's just the guy to take Luke in hand and also to dare to bend the rules a little so the kid can have a better chance at a little fun.

Directed by David Mickey Evans, "First Kid" is a pleasant enough blend of seriousness and comic adventure. Pierce and Sinbad play off each other effectively, but "First Kid" is a pretty bland business, yet another variation on the venerable "poor little rich kid" saga. Still, children might be amused by "First Kid" and their parents probably less so.

Naturally, Luke and Sam have got to run into some trouble to bring the film to its climax and then send audiences home happy. And this is where writer Tim Kelleher stumbles. He and Evans try to gloss over the fact that at one point their first kid actually has the power to help get a Secret Service agent unjustly fired. They then absolve the youngster from any responsibility whatsoever to the man's subsequent fate. It would not seem to be expecting too much that at some point, once Luke has gotten wise to himself, to try to get the agent reinstated. Unintentionally, "First Kid" sends home the message that privileged kids can be exempted from the rules that apply to ordinary kids.

* MPAA rating: PG, for some violence, language and brief partial nudity. Times guidelines: The film is suitable family entertainment.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

'First Kid'

Sinbad: Sam Simms

Brock Pierce: Luke Davenport

Blake Boyd: Dash

Timothy Busfield: Woods

A Walt Disney Pictures presentation in association with Caravan Pictures production. Director David Mickey Evans. Producers Roger Birnbaum, Riley Kathryn Ellis. Executive producers Sinbad, Dale da la Torre, Tim Kelleher. Screenplay by Kelleher. Cinematographer Anthony B. Richmond. Editor Harry Keramidas. Costumes Grania Preston. Music Richard Gibbs. Production designer Chester Kaczenski. Art director Marc Dabe. Set decorator Judi Giovanni. Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes.

* In general release throughout Southern California.

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