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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Teens > Kids (Uncut)

Kids (Uncut)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Film: B-



When Larry Clark’s Kids was released in 1995, it could barely get released.  It was even distributed by a new company called Excalibur that eventually did not amount to much.  However, this is what it took to issue the film that was going to get an NC-17 no matter what.  With Gus Van Sant on as a producer, the film was off and running.  It did not do badly under the circumstances, but it had a very mixed critical reception.  Some were impressed, while others hated it.  Clark went on to direct the remarkable film Bully in 2001, a film that topped this one, but does that mean this was a good or bad film?


The Harmony Korine-penned screenplay is a day in the life affair of teenagers who are very streetwise, sexually active, and happy to try any drug around.  Unlike the 1960s, this comes with rough gang behavior and casual attitudes that can only inviter disaster.  Some critics were actually shocked by this, but those who were might be a bit naïve.


If anything, Eric Edwards’ camerawork makes this look like an ABC After-School Special form the 1970s gone horribly wrong.  The whole film plays out just like that, but unlike the ABC TV series, which would be limited to no more than one hour; this goes on for 90 minutes.  It cannot avoid run-on, and if Clark and company were intending to take their point all the way, they still went overboard.  This is not because the material is so shocking, but it becomes tired and boring when all is said and done.  An R-rated cut would not have made any difference.


The only difference between this film and that TV series is that 1) more children live below the poverty level than ever in the United States, 2) drugs are more accessible than ever, 3) AIDS, 4) Hip Hop, and 5) latter Rock music.  The automatic tendency is to blame this on the Reagan era, but the problems are more profound than that, and this film manages to skip addressing all of them!


A fine film still could have been made without going in that direction, but staying on the path it does, Kids becomes a spoof of itself, and as Hip Hop and Eminem have become more popular since its release, the film even seems dated.  Bully will not have that problem, and in what it is trying to do, it is no match for David Gordon Green’s George Washington or Scott Smith’s Rollercoaster (reviewed n this site), both exceptionally remarkable films from 2000.  They deal with the problems of their kids, all while showing them, which gives both more depth and durability in the long run.


The letterboxed image is above average at best, with color slightly fringing throughout.  This is likely a LaserDisc recycling, but is an old analog transfer either way.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has some Pro Logic surrounds, but lacks fullness and bass throughout.  This is especially noticed with the use of music, especially off the bat in the opening credits.  There are also absolutely no extras.


Clark has gone on to do four films as of this writing, but none have stirred up the debate this one did.  Van Sant now has Elephant, which looks like it is repeating the style of Kids, but applying it to the Columbine Massacre.  It should make for an interesting comparison.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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