review for The Kid Stays in the Picture on AllMovie

The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)
by Derek Armstrong review

Since Robert Evans' fingerprints were all over everything he touched during a meteoric rise through Hollywood, it's no surprise that the film version of his autobiography was both narrated and thoroughly controlled by the colorful egomaniac. As a result, The Kid Stays in the Picture relegates directors Brett Morgen and Nanette Burstein (On the Ropes) to the role of window dressers, not the probing interpreters they might have been if filming an unauthorized piece, a la Nicholas Broomfield's Kurt & Courtney. But since there would be no movie without Evans' juicy book, and since the mogul's exhibitionism knows no bounds -- including a willingness to expose sordid rehab episodes and cast doubt upon himself -- this is an acceptable sacrifice. The result is a funny, clever entry into a rich era of film history, by way of one its most attractive and powerful figures. And what window dressing -- Morgen and Burstein adopt a vivid format for presenting the snippets of newspaper and behind-the-scenes footage that chart Evans' journey from poolside dreamer to chief of Paramount Pictures to scandalous burnout. Static still photographs burst with vitality thanks to a device that gives them a third dimension, with each picture element floating on its own plane. The collection of materials on hand indicates some pretty thorough scrounging by Morgen, Burstein and Evans. A standout is the desperate plea Evans filmed to dissuade Paramount's board of directors from closing the studio; in a trademark moment, his suave confidence utterly overcame them. Evans doesn't censor his thoughts on his industry associates, least of all the women in his life, so this is a delicious inside treat with real laughs and genuine, dissociated insight.