In order to save the life of her father an ex-mountain climber who needs a very expensive operation to repair an old spinal injury not covered by insurance 12-year-old Maddy (Kristen Stewart) a budding rock climber herself gets the idea to rob a bank for the money. Not just any bank mind you but the same one for which her mother (Jennifer Beals) has just designed a high-tech security system and the same one that refused to lend money to Maddy's family for Dad's operation. Ah so it's about a worthy cause and it's a revenge plot. Along with her climbing skills which she'll have to use in order to scale the 100-foot vault Maddy also enlists the help of her two best friends--the mechanically gifted Gus (Max Thieriot) and Austin (Corbin Bleu) a computer whiz and future film director. As the trio try to pull off the seemingly foolproof heist things don't go necessarily to plan (big surprise) and the kids must face the repercussions. Maybe it would have been easier if they just put on a musical show in the barn where neighbors could generously contribute to the "Let's Fix Dad" fund.
Catch's saving grace is the kids--Stewart Thieriot and Bleu are instantly likable. As the veteran of the trio Stewart (Panic Room) infuses Maddy with the right amount of empathy and determination while newcomers Thieriot and Bleu deliver charming performances not only as Maddy's friends but as her would-be suitors as well. The little competition between the two for her affection is sweet and unassuming and about the only compelling aspect to the story. As far as the adults in the film most fall into stereotypical roles. Michael Des Barres (Man From Elysian Fields) plays the megalomaniac president of the bank á la It's A Wonderful Life's evil Mr. Potter; Beals is Maddy's workaholic mother who promises to spend more time with her daughter while Sam Robards is the free-spirited dad waiting for his kid to save the day. And let's not forget a sadomasochistic yet bumbling bank security guard (James Le Gros) who "knows NUTHING!" about how to stop some wily kids from breaking into the vault. Borrring.
Catch That Kid is actually a remake of the 2002 Danish film Klatretøsen which is one of the country's more successful films a kid's version of the slick Ocean's Eleven. Doing a remake probably looked good on paper. After all bank heists are still considered the classier of crimes (providing no one gets hurt) stealing all that insurable cash from greedy financial institutions--and seeing kids do it would be fascinating. Unfortunately Catch fails to recognize its own potential. Screenwriters Michael Brandt and Derek Haas instead concoct the far-fetched plot so Maddy would have to have a good reason to commit the crime and indie director Bart Freundlich (World Traveler) doesn't even come close to capturing Ocean's Eleven's spirited fun and cleverness. There's no thrill. The kids show no joy in their high-tech and physical capabilities. They just dutifully plod through their mission. Even in trying to emulate the ultra-cool gadget-filled Spy Kids the film ultimately falls short in firing up the audience's imagination.