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About The Story
Screenwriter Audrey Wells was fully aware of the potential pitfalls of shaping a fantasy about a 40-year-old man who meets himself as an 8-year-old kid. "When I developed the idea for this movie, I knew it was both compelling and, from a writer's point of view, an idea full of traps. In its simplest form, we are dealing with a guy who meets his ‘inner child,' (a term Wells describes as California psychobabble), which is something we are all sick of hearing about and a very dangerous thing to try and do in a comedy.

"I knew as a writer we had to avoid becoming too self-indulgent or too narcissistic about it," she says. In order to avoid that kind of sentimentality, Wells instead created conflict between the two characters—a situation in which the man is horrified to see himself again as a child, and the child is horrified that he grows up to be a loser. "By creating conflict between the characters and having them dislike each other, we could have more comedy in it, and it wouldn't be all about a narcissistic kind of self-love."

"The conflict allowed the characters to behave in a very real way, both in how they interacted with one another and how they responded to a situation," says Turteltaub, "which is incredibly important in making sure that we are making sense story-wise, especially in the fantasy elements."

"There's a lot of comedy in the film, a lot of silly jokes that I think kids will especially get," says Willis. "But there's also a storyline for adults that I think is interesting. Russ learns during the film that maybe this kid is here to teach him something, or perhaps he needs to teach the kid s something. I think it's really about what we can learn from ourselves as children, and what the kid that still lives in our heart can learn from us a an adult."

"The story is dealt with such intelligence and honesty by Audrey that it never becomes easy or clichéd," says Emily Mortimer. "The questions keep being asked, and just when you think you've got to one answer, there's another question that arises."

"I also think the story works because it is so subtle," says Christina Steinberg. "I think we believe it because the character's respond the way we would respond, so it's a very natural process."

Nuance in the actor's performances was critical, according to Turteltaub, to ensure the story would be honest and real. "It's the subtlety of Bruce's performance that is everything. For Russ to be real, he had to be genuine whether he was being cocky, arrogant or humbled. Bruce's performance captured all of these sides of Russ' personality with amazing cleverness and honesty."

In order to help capture the realism of his character, Willis asked the filmmakers to video tape Spencer playing his role as the older Russ so that he could draw on Spencer's performance.

"It's really important in the movie that you see the similarities between them, and only so much can be written," says Turteltaub. "By videotaping Spencer, Bruce saw exactly how Spencer the adult might behave and then mimicked his mannerisms and body language in ways I never thought to find," says Turteltaub. "He brought a huge amount of realism to the character that can't be forced or faked. On top of that, he adds a great sense of humor and a wonderful sense of honesty."

"Bruce is fantastic to work

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