Mission Without Permission
May 20, 2005
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Corbin Bleu, Max Thieriot, Jennifer Beals, Sam Robards, John Carroll Lynch, James LeGros, Michael Des Barres, Stark Sands, Lennie Loftin, François Giroday, Christine Estabrook, Kevin Schmidt, Audrey Wasilewski, Meagen Fay, ,
When dad gets sick it’s up to Maddy and her clever friends to come up with the money for his operation and it just so happens mom is in charge at the new bank…
Mission Without Permission (also known as Catch That Kid) tries to do the kiddie heist thing but, whilst not the worst film ever, can’t hold a candle to Robert Rodriguez’s smart, intelligent Spy Kids movies which never once dumbed anything down and were all the more enjoyable for it. MWP is a remake of popular Danish movie Catch That Girl from 2002 so it’s no surprise to hear that Hollywood has bought up the rights to a decent foreign film and then glossed over exactly what made the original so…well, original.
Obviously taking his cue from the first act/third act weapon loop that defined 80’s action movies, director Bart Freundlich introduces us to the three kids as they perform their individual skills. Maddy is a climber, Austin is good with computers and Gus is good with mechanics so it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what role they’ll play in the climactic heist.
Kristen Stewart (who played Jodie Foster’s daughter in Panic Room) is a down-to-earth lead as Maddy, who’s into rock climbing like her dad. Gus works at their Go Cart track as a mechanic and Austin passes his time filming everything in the hope of becoming a famous director. Both have crushes on Maddy but she can’t really choose between the two of them. Then her dad is taken ill because of an old climbing injury that flares up and the operation to save his life would cost £250,000. Since they can’t afford this, Maddy’s mother Molly, who is head of security at a new hi-tech bank, asks them for a loan. But since she failed to update the security system on schedule, the bank refuses. This gives Maddy the idea for the perfect score…
With Gus and Austin on board the three of them begin planning the heist, using their power as children to trick the adults into giving over information about the bank that will allow them to sneak in. Meanwhile the boys are still fighting for Maddy’s affections and when she refuses to choose, they leave her in the lurch just before the big heist is due to take place. When Molly lumbers Maddy with her little brother to babysit, things have well and truly gone to pot.
There’s something irresponsible about having the girl use her feminine charms to control the boys, even if she gets caught out at the end. Plus telling kids that it’s okay to steal a shedload of money if you can’t get it any other way probably raised a few eyebrows at the studio, but neither points can detract from the fact that Mission Without Permission is just an average time-passer for undemanding pre-teens. The comedy is forced (especially by the bumbling security guards) and there’s no real action aside from a Go Cart chase in the city, but it moves along at a decent pace and is amiable afternoon entertainment.
Nothing too spectaular: you get a wad of deleted scenes which somehow manage to signpost the plot even more (“Passwords are usually something personal,” Austin tells Maddy) and a cast commentary. There’s also a brief ‘Inside Look’ at Garfield, but the highlight here is ‘Gone Nutty’, the Oscar-nominated animated short inspired by Ice Age which has vermin Scrat trying to protect his bounty of nuts and somehow ending up changing the landscape of the planet.