Bill Williams (Arnold) is a washed-up actor whose career went into a decline after he wrote and co-starred in the summer blockbuster True Lies. He's saved from an aborted suicide attempt when he is hired by billionaire Davis Roman to write and star in a sequel, "Two Spies"; his adulation sours when he discovers the catch — the movie is designed exclusively as a birthday-party wish fulfillment gift for Roman's son Aaron (Eric Gores), a die-hard True Lies fan who suffers from cerebral palsy. As complications pile up, Williams struggles to complete the project, and draws inspiration from Aaron's tenacity, optimism, and friendship.
The Kid & I is best known for its Based on a True Story roots — the movie came about when Tom Arnold's neighbor, technology billionaire Alec Gores, hired Arnold to helm a movie starring his son Eric, and bankrolled the insanely elaborate present for his beloved son. It was quietly released in December 2005 to mixed reviews; Roger Ebert and Peter Sobczynski enjoyed it for its sincerity and Self-Deprecating Humor, while The Onion noted that its tiptoeing around Aaron/Eric's condition hampers the movie's potential.
This movie demonstrates the following tropes:
- As Herself: The film's director Penelope Spheeris (Wayne's World) plays the director hired to shoot "Two Spies."
- Author Avatar: Bill Williams is this for Tom Arnold.
- Based on a True Story: The credits mention that the film is "Based on a sorta true story".
- The Cameo: Celebrities appearing in the movie include Shaquille O'Neal, Whoopi Goldberg, Pat O'Brien, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Aaron Roman, full stop, to the point of almost being a Marty Stu.
- No Animals Were Harmed: The credits mention that no animals were harmed in the making of the movie, but Tom Arnold gained 10 pounds.
- Self-Deprecation: Arnold's script is not afraid to take lots of good-natured jabs at his own expense.
- Penelope Spheeris is hired to direct "Two Spies" because "she comes cheap."
- Show Within a Show: "Two Spies," of course.
- Spy Fiction: "Two Spies" plays on every major action-spy cliche available.
- Stylistic Suck: "Two Spies" is produced with a noticeable lack of polish compared to real Hollywood blockbusters. Justified as it's essentially a big-budget home video.
- Throw It In!: In-universe. Nearly every movie suggestion from Aaron gets added to "Two Spies," as the cast and crew are afraid of upsetting his father.
- Vanity Project: In-universe. A variation is used, as "Two Spies" is not so much a vanity project as much as a gift from a (very rich) father to his son.
- Write Who You Know: Tom Arnold's script contains a stunning number of parallels to his own Real Life events.