(director/writer: Evan Morgan; cinematographer: Mike McLaughlin; editor: Curt Lobb; music: Jay McCarrol; cast: Adam Brody (Abe Applebaum), Sophie Nélisse (Caroline), Tzi Ma (Mr. Chang), Peter MacNeill (Principal Erwin), Maurice Dean Wint (Constable Cleary),  Jonathan Whittaker (Mr. Applebaum), Wendy Crewson, Sarah Sutherland (Lucy), Jesse Noah Gruman (Young Abe), Lisa Truong (Lisa), Sophia Webster (Jackie), Dallas Edwards (Calvin), Isaac Kragten (Billy), Amalia Williamson (Melody), Sharon Crandell (Mrs. Chang); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: R; producers: William Woods/Jonathan Bronfman; Sony Pictures Entertainment/Stage 6 Films; 2020-Canada)

“Gets better the more it goes on.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

First-time writer-director Evan Morgan’s comic detective story gets better the more it goes on.

It chronicles the sad tale of the 32- year-old failure Abe Applebaum (Adam Brody), who was once a celebratory in his hometown as a child detective.

As a child growing up in the sleepy small town of Willowbrook, Abe is played by Jesse Noah Gruman. Brody provides the voiceover. Abe’s dad (Jonathan Whittaker) gave him office space as a teen in the house, where he worked on trivial cases (finding missing pets), charging clients a quarter. He received his moment in the sun when he solved a few tricky cases, such as discovering who stole the receipts from a charity drive.  The mayor gave him the key to the city for that one. He also identified a thief at the sweet shop, whereby the owner promised him free ice cream for life.

Abe’s confidence is destroyed when he can’t solve the disappearance of Gracie Gulliver, a teenage girl his age. His depression over his failures during his adult years makes him a laughing stock in town, as he lives on his own and worries his parents as he becomes a slacker and a boozer.

Abe gets a chance to redeem himself when a high-school student named Caroline (Sophie Nélisse), a naive orphan, hires him to investigate the brutal stabbing murder of her boyfriend Patrick Chang, an honor student whose body was found floating in the river with 17 stab wounds  When the police have no leads, she asks Abe to take the case. He has no luck in questioning those close to the victim, and is met with anger by the victim’s parents (Tzi Ma and Sharon Crandell) when he tells them their son was no angel.  

But Abe is right about the victim hanging out with bad local kids and living a secret life.

The goofy way Abe persists and finally solves the case in a surprising way makes for a curious thriller and an oddball character study, as the film shines even if it often misses the mark in its erratic storytelling.

      Kid Detective Production Still

REVIEWED ON 10/23/2020  GRADE: B-