Common Sense Note
Parents need to know that The Kid is Charlie Chaplin's first feature-length release, a silent picture from 1921. The film chronicles another episode in the life of his famous character, the Tramp, who this time finds an abandoned baby and decides to raise it as his own. It contains plenty of violence, used as a tool of Chaplin's physical slapstick humor -- lots of punches are thrown, objects are used to compromise others, and struggles and chases ensue. All these elements succeed in achieving their goal of laughs, however, and the exaggerated nature of the conflicts makes them seem silly and humorous rather than scary or realistic. Beneath the comedy, there are definitely some more serious thematic elements at work -- most significantly a child being traumatically separated from a parent. In that regard, the opening title proves to be true: "A picture with a smile -- and perhaps, a tear." Since it's silent, the film may hold little interest for kids who aren't able to get on board with the absence of dialog. But for those who are able to appreciate Chaplin's work -- and there is definitely plenty to appreciate -- the film is truly a piece of history, offering a glimpse into days past, along with -- of course -- many laughs.
Violence arises as a tool of the film's physically based slapstick humor and is more cartoon-like than realistic. There are plenty of physical altercations -- mostly fistfights -- and, in one instance, two children beat each other up while a watching crowd cheers. Objects such as an umbrella, a ceramic bowl, and a hammer are used to "injure" others, and a policeman attempts to choke the Tramp. All these instances are somehow related to the gag at hand and are used to generate laughs despite their -- at face value -- more serious nature. As part of the Tramp's dream, he gets shot out of the sky by the policeman -- a brief and rare moment that doesn't hold much humor.
Though the film is silent and no risky language technically can be heard, at one point an inter-title reads "Awkward ass!" as someone (off-screen) shouts at the Tramp.
Unlike many of Chaplin's other films, this one has no overt political or social critique at work. The Tramp exposes some of the hardships of poverty as he scrambles to make his way in life and speaks to the power of an adoptive father-son bond, but there's no overarching lesson to be had. The film does present a few intermittent and subtle teaching moments -- a title card reads "Charity -- to some a duty, to others a joy," and the Tramp's dream sequence shows sins such as jealousy and lewdness corrupting an otherwise peaceful world. The film's focus, though, rests on the relationship between the Tramp and his adoptive son, which is a touching story even if it's not an extremely teachable one.
Drugs / Tobacco /
The Tramp is sometimes pictured smoking, though it's not emphasized and fits with the historical context.