Beware any movie that drops its first trailer a mere two weeks before the full film is due to hit theaters. Such a display of no confidence on the part of a marketing department portends bad things, man. Bad things!
I know all of that, but I can’t help it – The Kid truly has me intrigued. It’s a western that stars Ethan Hawke, Dane DeHaan, and just a little celebrity named Chris Pratt playing against type as a villain. It was directed by Vincent “Kingpin” D’Onofrio, his first directorial effort since 2010’s Don’t Go In the Woods. It’s about one of history’s most iconic western gunslingers, Billy the Kid. It has a recognizable studio – Lionsgate – behind it, and functions as a mini-Magnificent Seven reunion, which is a movie that nearly grossed $100m domestically. On top of all that, the dang thing is due the same weekend as Captain Marvel!
Yet, I don’t recall seeing The Kid mentioned in a single one of the various “2019 Preview” cover stories I read in film magazines like Empire, Total Film, and EW. The screenwriter Andrew Lanham has been working on this since at least 2014, but until this tweet from Pratt yesterday I didn’t know this movie existed:
Now, I just want to know: what is this actually about?
Anyone familiar with the Billy the Kid story or just anyone who has seen Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and/or Young Guns II – a childhood favorite of mine – will recognize the broad strokes of the plot as well as some of the setpieces. Hawke is Garrett, the newly appointed Sheriff charged with capturing his old friend Billy the Kid (DeHaan). Famous historical events like Garrett’s arrest of Billy after a shootout at a small farmhouse and Billy’s subsequent jail outbreak appear to be dutifully recreated.
Then there are parts which appear to be slightly more in the historical fiction territory, like Garrett protecting Billy from a lynch mob (which did kind of happen but not at all in the way seen in the trailer). Young Guns II is also guilty of just making shit up. So, this isn’t new, and Hawke’s Garrett underscores just how much this is NOT a documentary by declaring, ““It doesn’t matter what’s true. It matters the story they tell when you’re gone.”
Interestingly, however, the title of the film might not even refer to Billy, at least not solely. According to MovieWeb, “The Kid centers on a young boy, Rio (newcomer Jake Schur), who is forced to go on the run in an attempt to save his sister (Leila George) from their evil uncle (Chris Pratt). Along the way, he crosses paths with Sheriff Pat Garrett, who is searching for the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid. Rio finds himself increasingly caught up in the lives of these two legendary figures as the final year of Billy the Kid’s life unfolds. Ultimately Rio is forced to choose which type of man he is going to be; an outlaw or a man of valor.”
So, it’s kind of like if Young Guns II was less about Emilio Estevez’s version of Billy and more about that one baby-faced kid who joins his gang after nervously calling him the “Prince of Pis…Pis..Pistoleers”? But this kid is being hunted by a version of Chris Pratt who sounds like Rooster Cogburn and looks like a fiddle player in Mumford & Sons? Cool. This might be terrible or merely passable, but I’m totally down for whatever The Kid has to offer.
What about you? Let me know in the comments. The Kid is due out March 8th.