By Don R. Lewis | March 17, 2006

Jacob Vaughan’s feature debut “The Cassidy Kids” has a whole lot going on. Lets see if I can explain the nuts and bolts up front. A group of youngsters set out to discover what happened to a local boy who’s gone missing. As their search goes on they soon become heroes and inspire a television show about mystery solving kids called “The Cassidy Kids.” The show becomes a huge hit but the effects of being child celebrities, even if it’s just in name, has a strong effect on everyone. We discover just how screwed up they all are as the “real life” Cassidy kids are brought together for interviews that will go on the DVD of the show. But wait! There’s more! But you’ll have to see the movie.

“The Cassidy Kids” is so complex and engrossing, I still can’t believe they pulled it off. But pull it off they did and then some. The cast alone is as thick as an epic because the film manages to have the adults who were the inspiration for the show, the kids starring on the show as well as the real life kids all on camera at various times. The non-fictitious characters has thick layers of emotion along with conflict yet the film remains tense and interesting from start to finish.

All of the adults that were involved in the mystery have grown up with serious issues stemming from the event. Dennis, played perfectly by Kadeem Hardison, seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. As a teen, he and Becky (who helped solve the mystery of the missing boy and became a star on the actual show as well) were growing close and falling in love until a serious trauma tears them apart. There’s something unspoken between the two of them and as the film goes on it eventually bubbles to the surface. The other adults are desperately trying to grasp on to any shred of fame they think they have from the show and it gives the film some funny, light moments. “The Cassidy Kids” is a pretty intense ride.

The acting is outstanding by both the kids and the adults and the storyline, although dense, really stays it’s course and makes sense in the end. Aside from the description above there’s even more going on as the film touches on racism, secrets, murder, family and celebrity. There’s underlying tension to all the characters and it’s very believable. I don’t know how they did it, but “The Cassidy Kids” pulls together and is a great film.

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