The Kid Detective is a 2020 Canadian mystery comedy-drama film written and directed by Evan Morgan and starring Adam Brody, Sophie Nélisse, Wendy Crewson, with Sarah Sutherland, and Tzi Ma.
As a child, Abe Applebaum was a local celebrity as a “kid detective”, solving minor mysteries and crimes for the residents of the town of Willowbrook. When he was fourteen, his close friend, Gracie Gulliver, disappeared. Despite his investigation, neither he nor the police were able to find her, leaving him traumatized.
Now 31, Abe continues to operate his detective agency, despite the concern from his family and derision from his peers for his failure to “grow up”. Depressed over his struggling business and the complete lack of respect he is given, he abuses alcohol and drugs to cope. An orphaned high school student named Caroline approaches him for help investigating the murder of her boyfriend, Patrick Chang. Despite never having investigated a murder case before, Abe sees this as a chance to prove himself and agrees to take the case for free.
Their investigation leads to the discovery of several secrets that Patrick had kept from Caroline, such as his involvement in drug dealing and his affair with an older girl named Melody. They also learn that his friend Calvin is in love with Caroline, and resented their relationship. However, Abe’s clumsy style of work also leads to several mishaps, such as angering Patrick’s father and being arrested for sneaking into Calvin’s house. He eventually reaches a breakthrough when he realizes that a series of origami roses given to Caroline were not from Patrick, as she assumed, and are identical to ones that were received by Gracie shortly before her disappearance. When he also learns that the person he implicated in the theft of school fundraiser money as a child was actually innocent, he is able to deduce the identity of both Gracie’s kidnapper and Patrick’s killer as being high school principal Erwin.
Abe confronts Principal Erwin at his home and reveals what he has learned. Erwin had become obsessed with Gracie and plotted to kidnap her. The theft of the school fundraiser money had been a test to see if Abe really was as good of a detective as people thought, and when he failed to solve the case correctly Erwin felt confident in carrying out his plan. Caroline is, in fact, the product of Erwin’s rape of Gracie, whom Erwin had secretly left at a church after her birth. When he found a lewd picture of Melody in Patrick’s locker, he mistook it for Caroline and killed Patrick in revenge for “ruining” her. With his crimes revealed, and confronted by the fact that he murdered Patrick over a mistake, Erwin kills himself in front of Abe. Abe subsequently discovers Gracie, still alive, locked in a shed in Erwin’s yard.
Abe is hailed as a hero for solving the case and rescuing Gracie, restoring his respect in town and greatly boosting his agency’s business. However, he is haunted by the recent events, and when his parents come to check on him, he breaks down sobbing as the movie ends.
Adam Brody as Abraham “Abe” Applebaum
Jesse Noah Gruman as young Abraham “Abe” Applebaum
Sophie Nélisse as Caroline
Peter MacNeill as Principal Erwin
Maurice Dean Wint as Constable Cleary
Tzi Ma as Mr. Chang
Wendy Crewson as Mrs. Applebaum
Sarah Sutherland as Lucy
Jonathan Whittaker as Mr. Applebaum
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