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Skate Movie Review: Larry Clark’s “KIDS”

By Andres Pachon

A. Pachon, a journalist and skateboard addict, is a full-time writer for SHIT® Magazine.

 

The 90’s were crazy times, not very different from how SHIT® is right now, with the huge difference that there was not real awareness of the danger of unprotected sex and the libertine lifestyle, unnatended and almost forgotten by parental figures, this movie packs a really hard blow to how things were happening back in the day, and it shows the downfalls of a completely degenerated youth in an almost too realistic manner.

The film created an almost unstoppable wave of controversy due to the very graphic sex, alcohol and drug abuse scenes portrayed in the movie and mostly because it is clear that most of the cast if not all of them were underage at the time wich caused people to be outraged on many levels.

It was this same controversy that pushed more and more people to see the film, most of them regretting the decision, the studio that purchased and distributed the film also got into legal fights as some of the state courts claimed that the film violated certain non federal laws, this was just like putting gasoline on a fire and caused the film to turn into a “cult film” which some people state has priceless artistic value and that the only reason people hated it so much it's because of the fact that it forces on you a certain reality slap in the face.

 

An Ageless Drama

At the time the film came across to people as disgusting or even repulsive, these were not topics that were discussed a lot among families or the youth itself, this film could even be a precursor to other “adult rated” teenage dramas we have seen on tv such as the show SKINS or new HBO series EUPHORIA, there are some similarities you can find in these particular 3 but there is no doubt that KIDS would come to be somewhat of the “RAW CUTS” of any teenage drama. It's particularly shocking to see that some of these social issues are still going on to this date and even more shocking to think that they could have even worsened with time and new technologies.

The 91 minute film starts with Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick) making out with a young girl in a bed (who in the film is described as being 12 years old) this Telly kid ends up convincing her to have sex with him and taking her virginity to then come out of the apartment to brag with his friend “casper” (Justin Pierce) about how he was able to do it and how he now has a thing for virgin girls.

The movie transcurres in one afternoon, a party evening and a regretful morning, and it's quite a shock to see all of the SHIT® that could go down in a kids life in a matter of hours, the kids hang out, get wasted, skate, buy drugs, and get their respective girls to have sex with, little knowing that their lifes will completely turn after a quick fuck.

The main “message” that the movie is trying to give is the dangers of unprotected sex, HIV having its peak in the 90’s. But a lot of people would agree in thinking that the “message” gets lost in the grotesque display of lack of morals, values, education and even self love portrayed by the cast of the film.

 

 

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Cast

Director Larry Clark and writer Harmony Korine aimed for a “realistic view” on NYC’s youth, flyers were handed out in parks and pasted in poles all over the city to complete the casting of the film, casting director Alyssa Wishingrad was assigned the task to get kids from all backgrounds, the flyer leaked onto the internet years later surprisingly calling for “non experienced actors between the ages of 13 and 19” a complete contradiction to Clark’s statements after the film premiered in which he mentioned that everyone of the actors in the film were 18.

It was really difficult for film crew members and director to even be able to get a hold of the kids in the film, some of them being even homeless or crashing from place to place, crew members had to hand out beepers to be able to get a hold of them when it came to shooting time, these kids were all over NY skating and doing crazy SHIT® and it was virtually impossible to put a stop to them which caused many issues during production of the film.

Justin Pierce (casper) was homeless at the time of casting and he was specifically one of the hardest ones to track down and control, he even got arrested for stealing liquor and some other situations during production of the film, to the point where producers had to bail him out of jail to be able to continue rolling the movie.

 

Props Or The Real Thing?

The use of alcohol, drugs and other paraphernalia has also been a widely discussed topic over the years, since this is what the kids are doing most on the film, one specific scene towards the end of the film shows four clearly underage boys passing around a blunt and having a discussion on how good the stuff was and how some of them can “out smoke the others”, the totally improvised scene was caught on camera and put on the film, some of the crew members allegedly refused to be on set once the scene was over claiming that they were taking things too far. To this date, Clark states that he has no clue whether it was or not a real marijuana joint.

Producers claim that the drugs, liquor and sex scenes were not real, statetement that could be arguable at least for the first 2.

KIDS is a challenge in itself for viewers to continue all the way to the ending scene which is the peak of chaotic drug and alcohol fueled evening between the actors.

It is very debatable to find the flick as “artistic” but this is something we don't think the director was trying to achieve with the film, it WILL start a conversation after you see it and whether you think is of value or you find it completely unnecessary and disgusting is up to your own experience and criteria.
Eric Eduards, in charge of the cinematography of the film said in an interview for alternative media magazine “Dazed”:

“I knew that the movie was going to be pretty controversial and that we were tackling a lot of new stuff like underage sexuality. I knew when we were beating up this African American kid in the park that that would be pretty controversial. Larry’s whole position was that this is what kids were fucking doing, and parents don’t know this and they should know, so Larry was going to show – I don’t want to say the darker side, but just a more truthful side of what kids were about, what kids were doing. He just wanted to expose it and explore it in a raw way.”

One thing is for sure, we don't think there will ever be another movie like “KIDS”.

 

 

 

Read also: Propeller: A VANS Skateboarding Movie

Read also: The World Rookie Tour: First Skateboarding Edition

 

 

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