Larry Clark's controversial film about New York City adolescents walking the AIDS tightrope is also an unblinking look at the dehumanizing rituals of growing up. But it really doesn't add up to more than the sum of its var... more »ious shocks--virgin busting, skinny-dipping, male callousness--overlayed with middle-class disapproval. Clark is hectoring us for cutting kids loose at a terrible time in modern American history, but so are a lot of other people, who also offer alternatives and ideas. The film does nothing to push us toward new thoughts, new solutions, new dreams. It is more like a window onto our worst fantasies about what our children are doing out there on the streets. --Tom Keogh« less
A depressing and numbing view the idle times of kids
Patrick L. Randall | Silver Spring, MD | 07/07/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Kids" goes right to the heart of everything that parents fear will become of their children. The youths that inhabit this film are not just wayward... they are violent, amoral kids whose state of evolution seems to have regressed to something more primal. The male lead, if you can call him that, in this movie is a truly horrific animal named Telly (played with scary realism by actor Leo Fitzpatrick). Telly seems to exist for no other reason than drink, get high, get into fights, and, oh yeah, deflower as many virgins as possible. He cajoles his conquests by telling them exactly what they want to hear, and once he's accomplished his mission, he will have nothing to do with them. He says he prefers them because they aren't all dirty or have diseases. Yet, the irony is, he is unknowingly carrying the AIDS virus around and endangering his conquests because it would seem that one of his 'virgins' was not quite honest with him. It's not hard to see how Telly can become such a monster. He has no moral compass around which to develop. One brief scene takes place during a brief stopover at his house before he and his friend, Casper, take off for more mayhem. His mother is sitting in the living room, folding laundry and watching TV while being almost totally oblivious to Telly being there. When Telly asks for some money, she says no and asks him when he's going to get a job, he just says that he's looking and then he goes into her room and takes some money, anyway. She wouldn't know if it was missing.
The actual plot of this movie, as thin as it is, focuses on a girl named Jennie (who was one of Telly's conquests) searching the streets of the city to find Telly and stop his virgin conquest because of the AIDS virus she just found out he gave her. Her search is intercut with scenes of a brutal gang beating by Telly and his friends of guy who popped off his mouth, club kids engaging in animalistic carnal behavior, and a morally bankrupt party where kids as young as 10 are drinking up, getting high and participating in even more carnal behavior.
"Kids" gets a positive rating because there is nothing phony about its unflinching view of the existence of kids with too much time on their hands and no direction in their lives. It does not get a higher rating because the images are extremely graphic and difficult to digest. This movie is not for everyone, but, if someone feels the can handle the subject matter, it is a valid tale."
Raw. Like watching a documentary on a different species
Schtinky | California | 08/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My pets behave better than this. And yet, this is what kids are doing. This is not an exaggeration or a class statement; these are real kids in real neighborhoods strolling the streets with no moral direction.
It really was almost like watching a documentary on a primate species, how the males and females gather in separate groups to chirp and chatter at each other until it's mating season. Then they all get together in a big pile and have at it with whoever is handiest.
The plot? A day in the life of aimless kids: virgin conquests, shoplifting, public urinating, drinking, smoking, getting high, breaking into a pool for a skinny dip, street fighting (complete with a brutal, perhaps deadly beating for a simple transgression), raves, public fornication, and one girl's discovery that she has AIDS.
There are two scenes that stand out in the movie, the first being when Telly briefly comes home, and his mother is sitting on her hinder, smoking, nursing her new baby, and watching TV. She barely notices Telly is in the room, except to tell him to be quiet so he wouldn't wake the baby. Parenting at its very worst, and you just know that little baby will grow up the same as Telly.
The second is the scene where Casper wakes up after the party. He moves from the tub he passed out in, past his friend who is unconscious over the toilet, to the kitchen where he immediately drains the dregs of the leftover beer bottles and lights a cigarette. He then goes on to take advantage of a girl who is passed out. Wow. Another morning in hell.
Larry Clark has done pretty well with Kids, though his work with 'Bully' was better, smoother, less raw while still being on the cutting edge. The performances from Leo Fitzpatrick (Telly), Justin Pierce (Casper), Chloe Sevigny (Jennie), and Rosario Dawson (Ruby) are more than acceptable. Clark certainly has a talent for bringing teenage angst and degradation to the screen, and for using brutal scenes to hone his dagger of truth home to those brave enough to watch his films. Enjoy! "
"Kids" was right on.
Taurean Graves | 07/10/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, some teens live like this and if I filmed my late teens / early twenties, it would look very much like the movie "Kids". This is an ugly, brutal, funny and important look into adolescent existance. Highly recommended.I was one of the lucky ones. While I watched the rest of my friends become drug addicts, contract HIV and slip into depression, I was able to emerge from that lifestyle relatively healthy. That destructive, hedonistic existance was my coming of age and I'm happy that I survived it and have continued in life to be successful -- not part of the forgotten urban underclass which most of the charachters in "Kids" are destined for.Hopefully, this film will serve to educate parents and young people that a dark side of reality is right underneath the surface (through the tunnel? over the bridge?) The lives of most teenagers is not accurately depicted in the depravity of "Kids" -- but the lives of most teenagers is also not accurately depicted in the idyllic fantasies of Dawson's Creek. Hopefully people will see a middle ground and use the ideas presented in "Kids" to put their lives in context.As far as the technical aspects of the film -- try not to confuse free-form improvisation and uncomfortable situations with bad acting - the acting is incredible. Try not to confuse documentary style filmmaking with bad cinemetography. The images are beautiful.All told, this is one of the best movies I've ever seen."
Bloody scary film...
Big Joe '83 | Melbourne, VIC Australia | 10/13/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"What sets Kids apart from Clark's later films is its grimly realistic acting and it's very easy to believe while Clark's later efforts such as Bully or Ken Park (And clones such as Thirteen.) tend to be more exploitative with dodgy casting choices at that. You can just sense that almost everything that occurs in this film despite the slightest creative license has most likely occurred in real life and the convincing acting of the teenagers who look the part (Not looking like they're 21.) really justify that. A perfect example includes a scene where teenagers mock a smaller kid because he hasn't been laid amongst other scenes.
While I think it's brilliant in its depiction I just can't give it five stars because quite frankly I really wouldn't want to see this again. I understand it's not meant to give any answers and just be a voyeuristic look at a failed generation but it's so grimly realistic that it leaves the viewer bitter and disgusted with no sense that a kid can turn out being anything but a degenerate, the film gives the impression it's a tad too late.
However I think EVERYONE should see this before they start a family as it'll either make you hate teens or show that we've got to clean up our act if we intend future generations to grow up with any sense of conscience and moral decency, ESPECIALLY in economically struggling and socially broken homes. Then hope a film like this is never needed again in the future. "
Taurean Graves | 04/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To all of the moms who are upset because they got tricked into buying this for their teens: This movie is not a parent. This movie is not for Kids (I know the title is deceiving). The movie is an accurate depiction of one side of life as it was experienced by inner-city youths in the early 90s. But maybe your kids need to watch it because the wildest kids i know are the ones who are sheltered from reality. Moms and dads do your jobs and let filmmakers make movies that actually mean something. HIV is real and that is the theme of this drama. But I guess that is what a parent is supposed to teach..."