Review: ‘A Kid Like Jake’ Starring Claire Danes, Jim Parsons, And Octavia Spencer

A Kid Like Jake stars Claire Danes and Jim Parsons as a married couple and parents to a gender nonconforming child. Outside of that subject matter, this movie takes a much closer look at how a situation like having a kid that doesn’t adhere to traditional societal norms affects the parents and their relationship with one another.

Alex is an ex-attorney, now stay-at-home mom who, on the surface, doesn’t think much of her son’s interest in things that are normally associated with girls, like wearing dresses and a love of Disney princesses. She more or less exists in her own reality where not calling attention to the fact that her son is different shields him from the harsh realities of the world; she doesn’t want to acknowledge the fact that he is different, she would rather Jake come to her on his own with that realization.

Greg is a bit more realistic. He’s a therapist that doesn’t spend as much time with Jake as I’m sure both he, his wife, and Jake would like for him to. He seems more comfortable with the fact that his son is different; he believes that the earlier it gets acknowledged, the better the help can be to aid Jake in navigating through the world that he is already coming into contact with.

This of course creates a lot of tension and conflict between the two parents because they both believe that they’re way of handling things is what is best for Jake. As things unfold, what we begin to see is that their son is just the tip of the iceberg and that the situation revolving around Jake actually exposes the many cracks in their marriage, bringing to light the things that they have kept hidden for some time.

Though the main story revolves around this conflict between the parents, I loved that we still got to be a part of Jake’s world. A lot of the scenes involving Jake without his parents were a lot more slowed down, blurred, fluid, and employed more close-ups than were used in the film; it almost felt like an entirely different movie. I also loved how they showed that at the end of the day Jake is just a kid that’s worried about fruit roll-ups and playing with his friends; he’s very free in that sense and I think that that’s something that’s really interesting to think about.

As kids we’re so carefree and everything seems limitless, but as we grow older a lot of the problems that we experience stem from our need to be accepted mentally, physically, emotionally, and socially. Jake doesn’t see himself as being a “problem”, though, I’m sure by this point he is starting to notice that he is viewed differently, he’s still very innocent, and it’s that innocence that is so beautiful and also scary to witness.

This movie really taps into the current zeitgeist when it comes to gender. It’s timely and raw; it’s heartwarming and frustrating; it’s fearful, but also very hopeful. This is a well-written and well-acted movie that I believe can be a treat for everyone if they allow it to be and also a lesson for parents that perhaps will help them re-evaluate how they parent(ed) their own kids, “normal” or not.

Rating: 5 out of 5