Even when they're quite good, I'm not often one to heavily applaud child actors. People always want to lavish praise on little tikes who share the screen with big stars, as if the fact that they even remembered their lines makes them Hollywood savants.
My favorite overrated kid performance to complain about is Jaden Smith's in "The Pursuit of Happyness," the fact-based 2006 drama that earned Jaden's on- and off-screen dad, Will, an Oscar nomination. Some felt Jaden deserved a Supporting nod. Others, like myself, felt that to sheer insanity. I mean, the kid played dress-up with his daddy. How hard could it have been?
I don't think I'll be telling that story again. If "The Karate Kid" is any indication, Jaden is going to be a major star just like his papa, continuing to hone his craft and put naysayers like me in their places. The lead role of this surprisingly superb remake is physically, emotionally and technically demanding, and Jaden ably carries the film on his 11-year-old shoulders. He's got natural charisma and real presence and an instinct for performance that goes beyond the typical overrated youngster turn. I guess it just took his dad getting out the way for me to see it.
What's more, Jaden is poised to repeat his dad's entertainment double-dipping, pairing what looks like a budding music career with his acting gig. For the "Karate Kid" soundtrack, Jaden lent some solid raps to the track "Never Say Never" by the inescapable Justin Bieber (you know you have the fever, too). Whether he makes his next project an album or a blockbuster, this little dude seems destined for success...and happyness.
Video for "Never Say Never," by Justin Bieber featuring Jaden Smith: