Kid Gloves (2013) – By Philip Smolen

Freddy (Victor Ptak) is in his fifties and has always lived his life afraid. When he was a young boy, his father (Keith How) tried to get him to learn boxing, but when he stepped in the ring for his first bout, Freddy ran away. Now he works for a collection agency and his much younger manager Johnny (Julian Shaw) is a bully. Johnny routinely humiliates his subordinates and demands that they become as vicious and uncompromising as he is. Johnny then demotes Freddy to the Call Center to spy on the agents. While there, Freddy befriends the much younger Jess (Heather Nimmo), a call agent who wants to be a commercial artist. Later at a meeting, Johnny announces that next month the entire department will have a team building event at a local gym where Johnny will give everyone boxing lessons (he thinks he can equate this to a business model). Freddy then decides that it’s time once again to step back into the boxing ring in order to teach Johnny a lesson. And it just so happens that Freddy has made friends with Gus (Edmund Dehn) a Cuban handyman who used to be an Olympic boxer.

Over the last 40 years, one of the most pleasing and popular movie formulas is the one where the lovable loser gets a final chance at redemption in order to finally set his life on the right path (think “Rocky” [1976] and “The Karate Kid” [1984]). “Kid Gloves” is a winning variation on this theme. Writer/director Adam Simcox tells a simple and earnest story in a clear and uncluttered fashion. He really likes this earthy common man Freddy and he wants us to cheer for him. He puts Freddy in a situation that we’re all too familiar with (a miserable boss, unfulfilled dreams) and lets him rise to the occasion.

There is a wonderful chemistry between the actors in this film. All of Victor Ptak’s and Edmund Dehn’s scenes have a natural and pleasing rhythm to them. Simcox also has fun playing Freddy’s innate sweetness against Heather Nimmo’s salty and hardened Jess.

While the film is somewhat predictable, Simcox bolsters it by giving his characters more background depth and color than most films of this type. This adds to the satisfaction and makes Freddy’s actions great fun to watch. There is also an excellent music score by Mig Dfoe and some fine puppetry by David Nyari.

“Kid Gloves” is a sweet and charming tale of a formerly frightened pugilist who gets a final chance at redemption. It’s a winning fable and a great indie movie.

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