Can Jaden Smith Act? The Karate Kid Critics Weigh In

jaden smith karate kid

With The Karate Kid remake set to hit theaters later this week, fans all seem to be asking the same question: Can Jaden Smith act? Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s son stars in the flick, and though he also had a large part in The Pursuit of Happyness, this movie really relies on his performance as the young Dre (opposite Jackie Chan). Could Jaden be the Ralph Macchio of 2010? The critics are beginning to weigh in on Jaden’s Karate Kid act. 

First a rave:

“When a child star is cute and has a few instinctual acting moves, that’s probably enough to get him by. Jaden Smith, who stars in the new remake of The Karate Kid, scores on both counts, but he also has something that’s rare to see in a child actor. He’s got presence.” — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

 A number of critics find Smith simply too young for the part. Here’s one:

“Ralph Macchio was what, like, 35 when he played Daniel? But he looked 16, as his character was, so he seemed like a good fit. Now the character, Dre, is 12 — as is the film’s star, Jaden Smith…it’s just uncomfortable watching kids this age beat each other up to the point of serious injury; there’s no one to root for in that.” — Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

And then, these mixed accounts:

“The genetically blessed Smith (son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, who are among the film’s producers) is so preternaturally charismatic and assured that even when his character is being beaten up, he never seems as vulnerable or as likable as Ralph Macchio was in the original.” — Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

“[Smith's] actual performance is, well, proficient. Dre seems less a recognizable kid than a patchwork of audition pieces in which Smith shows his stuff: He does his own stunt work, gets in a couple of playful dance numbers, twinkles flirtatiousness, goofs off, pouts. His ‘spontaneous’ riffs have an air of conference calls and exchanged memos.” — Nick Pinkerton, The Village Voice

These are just the early Karate Kid reviews, with plenty more to come. So far, there seems to be a lot of Macchio nostalgia, plus a few nods to Jaden’s undeniable charm. The Karate Kid hits theaters on June 11. Will you see it? 

PHOTO: Bauer-Griffin

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