Blu-ray Review: The Kid Brother [Canadian International Pictures] | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, September 23rd, 2023  

The Kid Brother

Studio: Canadian International Pictures

Aug 25, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

In his mind, Kenny’s just like any other 13-year-old growing up in the rundown steel community of West Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. The youngest son of a janitor and a homemaker mom, he spends his free time skateboarding and listening to his Walkman, hanging out with his sister’s jock boyfriend or giving his older brother a hard time. The only thing separating Kenny from his classmates is the way he gets around: sometimes in a wheelchair, but mostly by walking on his hands. Born with an incredibly rare condition that left a gap in his spine and his lower body severely underdeveloped, Kenny’s legs were amputated when he was a baby — not that he’s ever let that slow him down.

Kenny has been the subject of numerous documentary crews in his time, many of whom have flocked from far corners of the globe to make him into a heartwarming human interest story. The latest is a French Canadian crew, who take over his family’s home to capture moments both candid and staged for their TV series. This puts additional pressure on the family’s already-strained dynamic, particularly when Kenny’s dropout sister moves back into their home so that she’ll have closer proximity to the rolling cameras.

An absolute treasure dug up by the Canadian International Pictures label, 1988’s The Kid Brother (a.k.a. Kenny) is about as heartfelt and endearing a family drama as you’ll find. Although it does instigate most of the events in the film, The Kid Brother isn’t as much about Kenny’s condition as one might expect. The boy doesn’t view himself as disabled, and visibly prickles whenever the term slips past someone’s lips. He doesn’t think he’s any different from anyone else, and the way the character’s treated in the film, it’s easy to forget at times that he has any disability at all.

Rather, the film chooses to focus more on his family, and what the outside attention does to their relationships. The family’s chemistry feels very real, and in once case it is: the on-screen brothers, Kenny and Eddy, were played by real-life brothers Kenny and Jesse Easterday. Eddy’s dealing with many of your standard, middle child issues, exacerbated by being sandwiched in between a drama-seeking older sister and a semi-famous younger brother who requires lots of extra care from their parents. His sister’s self-absorbed, a trait which perhaps developed as a coping mechanism. Meanwhile, mom and dad are doing their best as loving, doting parents with very limited financial resources. All of the characters feel very real and lived-in; even side characters such as the sister’s on-again, off-again meathead boyfriend, whom Kenny idolizes and who shows the boy lots of love and respect. The Kid Brother is a very, very sweet movie — and continues to be, even as the family tension comes to a head near the movie’s end.

While The Kid Brother is a bit of an odd film, it’s near-impossible not to fall in love with. Vinegar Syndrome’s partner labels have done some incredible work bringing mostly-forgotten gems to modern audiences, but The Kid Brother will likely land near the top of our list of film discoveries in 2022. It’s such a heartwarming, offbeat little movie that we’re ashamed we’ve missed out on for this long. Canadian International Pictures have packed the disc with nearly an hour’s worth of interviews with the director and one of his producing partners; an audio commentary by House of Psychotic Women author Kier-La Janisse and Ralph Elawani; and trailers for some of the director’s other films. The booklet comes with a comic strip and additional writings on the feature.

If it somehow wasn’t clear already, The Kid Brother comes highly, highly recommended.



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