Review By: Joe

Far as I can figure, indie movies fall into two major categories:

1. Comedic (allegedly) dramas about disillusioned teen(s) and/or a middle-aged person searching for his/her (usually his, though) place in life.


Admittedly, the first group will inevitably borrow a few things from the second group (i.e. the sped up scene in Garden State (or, How To Make an Indie Film) with people doing lots of drugs and fucking), but not so much the other way around.

Kids falls heavily into the second category. In fact, as far as I know, it is actually THE quintissential "life is so grim" indie movie. I'm not completely sure but it may have even started the "stark reality presented to you through the beauty of celluloid" trend. Basically, it is the one fucked-up indie movie that everybody in my generation has seen. As I've never been a very productive nor involved member of my generation, I only just saw it about a week ago.

I heard about this movie at various times throughout college, the general perception of it being "WHAT?!? YOU HAVEN'T SEEN KIDS??! OH, IT'S SOOOO FUCKED UP, BRO." The basic thing I got from hearing about this movie was that it was, one, unflinchingly realistic and honest and shit like that and, two, it was very depressing.


This is the second indie movie that was supposed to depress me that I went away with a "Well, that was fairly pointless" attitude instead. The first was the Bjork movie Dancer in the Dark, which I had heard was like "you won't want to get out of bed tomorrow morning" depressing. This doesn't apply to me because I wake up at two in the afternoon, so whatever.

Admittedly, maybe I am going into these movies with too much of an impression about them already. Expecting to be horribly depressed, I assume that, even when the film presents you with a glimmer of hope, it is inevitably going to be crushed. For example, I watched Requiem for a Dream without any prior knowledge about it and came away from it terribly destroyed. It's not even really a good movie, by any means, but it served its purpose in the respect of making me unhappy. How wonderful!

I find chunks of the plot of Dancer in the Dark to be phenomenally stupid. The plot in Kids seems like a much simpler story, but a lot of it is pretty dumb when you really think about it. The story for Chloe Sevigny's character, for example, is essentially that she finds out she has AIDS and then spends the rest of the film searching for the lead character, Telly, who gave her said virus. This basically entails her going to someone's apartment, riding in a cab, going to a park, going to a club and just letting some guy jam some ketamine in her mouth, taking another cab, and then finding Telly at another apartment...oh, and then there's some more bad stuff just to make it more awful.

I guess her story is fairly realistic (except she sure doesn't make much of an effort to not take that ketamine and the guy giving it to her is hardly menacing). I mean, she's not on any sort of adventure, she's just travelling around New York City looking for someone, but Telly is really the one we're following here and his story is really not very interesting either. It's basically just like, "LOOK HOW BAD THESE KIDS ARE!!!!" THEY STEAL! THEY SEX!! THEY POT SMOKE!! THEY BEAT UP A BLACK GUY!!! THEY HAVE A DISCUSSION ABOUT SOMEONE THEY KNEW WHO FUCKED A RETARDED GIRL WITH LEG BRACES!!!

I have this idea for a commercial promoting this movie in which little kids jump around holding copies of the DVD and saying things like, "It's a movie for us by us!!!

Right. Now, I know it's a movie and suspension of disbelief is supposed to be a-ok, but I think this movie's merit is supposed to rely almost exclusively on how realistic it is. And, you know, I don't buy it. There are horrible kids, yes. There are people who take sex too lightly. There are kids who steal, kids who take drugs. FINE. Maybe I'm wrong here, but honestly some of this crap just doesn't seem feasible to me:

A group full of HORRENDOUSLY LOUD girls discussing every sexual thing they've ever done with graphic terminology? I suppose it's possible but, I mean, don't girls try to hide their sluttiness from each other? At least a LITTLE more than this ("FUCKING IS DA BEST! IT'S DA BEST!")?

Stupid, bad kids get in fights for dumb things like people bumping into them, I'm sure, but do they beat someone within an inch of their life like it's a daily occurrence? Oh and then spit on him? And they have like fifty people willing to help them beat up this one guy?

Oh and the cab driver discussing the first girl who he ever put his tongue in the mouth of and offering all sorts of counter-inspirational advice? Yeah, probably not. Maybe in a French movie.

Now I realize that part of the SHOCK is supposed to be how young and unsuspecting the kids look. The two main guys are scrawny little white boys (the actor for Telly was actually only seventeen when the movie was filmed) and, I'll admit I don't have any formal acquaintance with the streets, but I still couldn't buy it. Telly and his little friend Casper talking about fuckin' girls and Telly letting him smell his fingers after he done had them up in a girl? "Mmm, butterscotch, yo!" Right. These children are just sooooo naughty-gross.

Speaking of which, I fucking hate the kid who plays Telly. Telly himself is a deplorable human being but, no, I hate the actor. He looks and sounds like a retard with horrible teeth and I tried to watch for awhile and consider that his acting was really quite good, but just a style I wasn't used to but, no, I don't think it is good. I think it's bad and I don't believe it for a moment. Plus, WHY DO GIRLS FUCK THAT UGLY LITTLE SHIT? But then I think I'm leaps and bounds beyond Telly in terms of appearance and an ability to speak without sounding like I have down syndrome and girls don't have sex with me, so, I dunno, maybe I should knock some of my teeth and a chunk of my brain out and head to the bar.

When I found it, the original file name for this picture was "kids on mushrooms.jpg"

So, yes, I guess this movie was shocking when it came out but I was expecting all the shock and managed to guess the major things. I just thought "Well, if they were going to go that far (as they very well might) then THIS would happen" and, indeed, I predicted the final HORRID!! event of the film. I also predicted (but I think this one's very easy) that the really slutty girl was going to find out she was clean while Chloe Sevigny, who only had sex once, was going to get the AIDS. Oh, no! But she only did it once! Actually, this is probably the only really good point the film DOES make although it's very "after-school special."

Come to think of it, that's the best thing this film can probably do: scare children. It's essentially just an after-school special with the intensity turned way past the BREAKING POINT!!!! This will set your kids straight and make your middle-aged parents vomit and cry, but everyone else should be able to recognize how silly this film really is.

For myself, the best thing I got out of it was, INARGUABLY, the song that plays in the opening. It's called "Daddy Never Understood" by the Deluxx Folk Implosion. It's a bunch of noisy punk nonsense that's only a minute and seventeen seconds long, but there's one part that shows up right before the end that makes the whole thing worthwhile (I'm talking about the song now, not the movie)!

Anyway, thanks to poor Chloe Sevigny, we can all, at the very least, take from this movie how not to go about pursuing an acting career. You get involved in a rape scene in your first feature and less than ten years later you're sucking Vincent Gallo's dick on film. Tsk!

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