First Kid (1996) / Comedy-Action
MPAA Rated: PG for violence, language and partial brief nudity
Running Time: 101 min.
Cast: Sinbad, Brock Pierce, Robert Guillaume, Art LaFleur, Erin Williby, Zachery Ty Bryan, Fawn Reed, Blake Boyd, Timothy Busfield, James Naughton, Lisa Eichorn, Sonny Bono (cameo)
Director: David M. Evans
Screenplay: Tim Kelleher
Review published November 3, 2006
Sinbad (Jingle All the Way, Coneheads) plays Sammy Simms, a Secret Service agent recently assigned the duties of guarding the 13-year-old son of the President, Luke (Pierce, The Ride). Sammy is dismayed at having to look after such a bratty kid, but thinks that if he can prove successful where others have not, he will be rewarded the brass ring gig of protecting the president himself. Of course, the boy refuses to behave, seemingly taking great delight in embarrassing his bodyguards, but Sammy thinks there is still hope for the rebellious young lad. After a fight which sees Luke lose face in front of the whole school, Sammy befriends him, and soon the two form a bond where Luke can get a bit of freedom, now that it is with a friend and not a Secret Service agent. learning to protect himself and also get the nerve to ask the class beauty (Williby) to the dance is on the agenda, but is Sammy giving too much freedom to his charge to properly protect the boy?
As far as Sinbad vehicles go, First Kid plays well to his strengths as a very approachable and personable comedian, allowing him the freedom to cut loose and drum up a few choice yuks amidst the seriousness of his superior officers. As far as the plot goes, there's little here that will surprise you, with the possible exception of a violent ending that feels more than a little out of place when contrasted with the genial, lighthearted comedy that is delivered with good flair during the previous 75 minutes. Surprisingly, for a routine family film, I did find it mildly enjoyable most of the time, although it is a shame that the screenwriters didn't choose to go a direction that didn't involve bullets, bloodshed and attempted assassinations and just stick to the the small things. In the Line of Fire this ain't, so why try to top it?
I would love to recommend First Kid to families looking for a cute, funny movie to watch with the younger kids, but I think they lost something here with the gratuitous violence. The constant product placement for various products is also particularly overdone (having Sinbad dress up as a giant cup of Coke is the most obvious). Perhaps kids in the 10-to-15-year-old range will like this, but it's hit-and-miss material for most other demographics.
©2006 Vince Leo