It seems like a lot of films based around bizarre but interesting conceptual hooks fail to actually capitalize on the big idea that won us over in the first place, as if the brilliant idea behind them should be enough to justify a whole feature film in and of itself. This sort of foundation works well for shorts or anthologies, but even the coolest film idea in the world needs thorough, clever mining if the film it creates doesn't want to wear out its welcome.
Kid's Police, a film about a hot shot police investigation unit de-aged into children by their nemesis, a large criminal organization known as Red Venus, gets this pretty much right on. It knows what strings to pull in order to maximize the comic potential of a plot the involves kids acting like police officers. But at the same time, it feels slightly held back from going totally nuts with it. This is one of those exploratory first entries that could be ground work for a truly triumphant sequel, should we be lucky enough to get one. (It was a ten-episode televisions series in Japan, so there's already a lot more where this came from.)
The genius of Kid's Police's concept really deserves emphasis. It's not a film filled with huge belly laughs, yet the comedy on display is almost exhausting after a while. This is a goofy film and the logistic realities behind a bunch of adults being turned into little children doesn't get much exploration, but maybe that's a good thing. Some of the little coppers get fleshed-out subplots, most of which cleverly add non-cop related layers of humor to the situation. For instance, the group's sole female member discovers a boy at school has a crush on her. She knows she can't date a kid and talks about how crazy that would be, all while picking out the prettiest possible dress for their meet-up. One boy's parental stand-ins (they all have to pretend to be kids for some reason) want to capitalize on the boy's naturally precocious nature by making him go to movie auditions. Of course he wins a role. Some of the kids just don't get that much screen time, though. The fat kid in particular must settle for eating food and having a goofy peach fuzz mustache as far as characterization goes.
Kid's Police is at its best the closer it adheres to actual cop film tropes. To that end, the film never gets better than when focused on grizzled, humorless unit leader, Dekacho, and the team's wild card badass, Bull. Each offer well-observed genre types made instantly hilarious coming from adorable children. With his wild, curly hair, every reaction from Bull is a violent overreaction. He's either screaming or beating someone's ass, and it's awesome.
Fuku Suzuki's Dekacho is on another level altogether. From his huge anchorman hair, to the way he meets each new piece of information with an shocked "NANI!?" and a million points in-between, all the film's smartest jokes revolve around this character. He totally steals the show. As the all-knowing paternal, Hannibal of the group, Suzuki has to keep all his emotions constantly in check, a funny look for a child. There's one karaoke joke with him that totally blew me away, and he also gets these incredible rooftop chats with his overly attached adult girlfriend, who he never once looks at, preferring to spend their conversations turned away, squinting off into the distance like a six year old Clint Eastwood.
Narratively, the film includes a couple of fun and unexcited twists. It's not the kind of movie you could really spoil much, but there are some bits you might enjoy more if you don't see them coming. Some digressions are required to keep things rolling along as the team's actual investigation really isn't all that interesting. Even with its decent inventiveness, the film's one hundred minute running time starts to lose steam after a while. I do, however, offer a blanket recommendation to pedophiles.
Kid's Police is the kind of film the should please those already excited to see it. I'm not sure it has enough juice to go beyond that very specific audience. I could be wrong, though. It is massively adorable from start to finish, and only a fool tries to tell where the wind will blow when rampant cuteness is involved.