Evan Morgan’s “The Kid Detective” takes place in a funny world we rarely get to laugh about. Willowbrook is a small town where everyone seems to know each other, and wacky crimes sometimes involving the Red Shoe Gang ensue. A time capsule was stolen; a school fundraiser box went missing. Such mysteries were solved by the town’s more bizarre fixtures, a young sleuth named Abe Applebaum, who earned his own office downtown, a sense of celebrity, and free ice cream for life from the local candy shop, Hepburn's. But like footage of the town's sporadically mentioned, legendary potato festival, the jokes that should be here are missing.
It’s a fitting setting for such a quirky dirge that knows what can be funny, but doesn’t follow up on it. At the beginning, Morgan’s script looks at the sweetness of youth through a hot shot teen detective who was taken seriously by kids and adults like. Abe used to offer a service from a treehouse (until someone chopped it down, one of the movie’s few funny asides), somewhere between the Lucy’s psychological advice in “Peanuts” and calling the police. He's solved over 200 cases.
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