Kids (film)

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Kids

French theatrical release poster
Directed byLarry Clark
Produced byChristine Vachon
Gus Van Sant
Cary Woods
Cathy Konrad
Written byHarmony Korine
Story byLarry Clark
Jim Lewis
StarringLeo Fitzpatrick
Justin Pierce
Chloë Sevigny
Rosario Dawson
Music byLou Barlow
CinematographyEric Edwards
Editing byChristopher Tellefsen
StudioKiller Films
Miramax Films
Trimark Pictures
Distributed byShining Excalibur Films
Release date(s)May 17, 1995 (1995 Cannes Film Festival)
Running time91 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$1.5 million[2]
Box office$20,412,216
 
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Kids

French theatrical release poster
Directed byLarry Clark
Produced byChristine Vachon
Gus Van Sant
Cary Woods
Cathy Konrad
Written byHarmony Korine
Story byLarry Clark
Jim Lewis
StarringLeo Fitzpatrick
Justin Pierce
Chloë Sevigny
Rosario Dawson
Music byLou Barlow
CinematographyEric Edwards
Editing byChristopher Tellefsen
StudioKiller Films
Miramax Films
Trimark Pictures
Distributed byShining Excalibur Films
Release date(s)May 17, 1995 (1995 Cannes Film Festival)
Running time91 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$1.5 million[2]
Box office$20,412,216

Kids is a 1995 drama film written by Harmony Korine and directed by Larry Clark.[3]

The film features Chloë Sevigny, Leo Fitzpatrick, Justin Pierce, Harold Hunter, and Rosario Dawson, all of them in their debut performances. The film is centered on a day in the life of a group of sexually active teenagers in New York City and their unrestrained behavior towards sex and substance abuse (alcohol and other drugs) during the era of HIV in the mid-1990s.

Kids created considerable controversy upon its release in 1995, and caused much public debate over its artistic merit, even receiving an NC-17 rating from the MPAA. It was later released without a rating and grossed $20 million at the worldwide box office.

Contents

Plot

Sixteen-year-old Telly and a thirteen-year-old girl are making out. Telly convinces the girl, who is a virgin, to have sex with him. Afterwards, he meets his friend, Casper. Telly tells Casper about his sexual experience in graphic terms. They go inside a local store, and Casper shoplifts a bottle of malt liquor as Telly distracts the cashier. They then steal a peach, using the same set-up just outside the store from a sidewalk display. Looking for drugs and food, they head to their friend Paul's apartment, though they express dislike of him on the way there. They arrive at Paul's house, talk about sex and smoke marijuana while watching a skate video (Video Days) (Casper inhales nitrous oxide out of balloons, which Telly considers dangerous). The scene intercuts with a group of girls, among them Ruby and Jennie, talking about sex—each gender contradicting what the other gender says, especially about oral sex.

Ruby and Jennie mention that they were recently tested for STDs at Ruby's request, though Jennie only got tested to keep Ruby company. Ruby's test is negative, though she has had multiple sexual encounters, many of them unprotected. Jennie tests positive for HIV. She says she has had sex only once, with Telly. Jennie spends the rest of the film trying to find Telly, who has taken to only having sex with virgins. Telly and Casper walk to Telly's house and steal money from Telly's mother. They go to Washington Square Park and buy a "dime bag" of marijuana from a Rastafarian. They then meet up with a few friends, one of whom gives a blunt-rolling tutorial, to talk and smoke. After taunting a homosexual couple, Casper rides on a skateboard and carelessly bumps into a man, who furiously threatens him. He pushes Casper, but is struck in the back of the head with a skateboard by Harold, a friend of Telly and Casper's, causing him to collapse. A number of other skaters join in, beating, stomping, and hitting the man with their skateboards until he is unconscious.

While discussing whether or not they killed the man at the park, Telly and some of the group from the park pick up a 13-year-old girl named Darcy, the younger sister of an acquaintance, whom Telly wants to have sex with because she is a virgin. He convinces her to go with them to a pool. The other girls engage in pseudo-lesbian kissing and flirtation, but Darcy is restrained, though not shocked by the others' behavior. She notices a lesion on Telly's chest, but Telly dismisses it as a "third nipple." Telly and the group go to the house of another friend, Steven, to smoke, drink and talk about sex. Meanwhile, Jennie goes to a rave club called NASA trying to find Telly. She runs into "Fidget", who gives her a pill: which he refers to as "a euphoric blockbuster drug that is supposed to make 'special K' look weak". It turns out to be a depressant (a downer similar to Valium or xanax). She eventually finds out that Telly is at what has become a party at Steven's house.

Jennie arrives at the party to discover Telly having sex with Darcy, thus exposing her to HIV. Exhausted by her ordeal and with the drug still affecting her, Jennie passes out on a couch among the other sleeping party-goers. A drunken Casper proceeds to rape Jennie as she sleeps, unknowingly exposing himself to HIV as well. The film ends with a soliloquy by Telly about how without sex he would have nothing to live for, as well as a poignant look at several early-morning junkies in the streets of New York. The final scene features a naked Casper looking at the camera and saying "Jesus Christ, what happened?"

Cast

Production

Larry Clark was reported to have said that he wanted to "make the Great American Teenage Movie, like the Great American Novel."[4] The movie is filmed in a quasi-documentary style, although all of the scenes are scripted.

In Kids, Clark cast New York City "street" kids with no previous acting experience in the film, notably Leo Fitzpatrick (Telly) and Justin Pierce (Casper). Clark originally decided he wanted to cast Fitzpatrick in a film after watching him skateboard in New York, and cursing himself when he could not land certain tricks. Korine had met Chloë Sevigny in New York before production began on Kids, and cast her in a small role as one of the girls in the swimming pool. She was later given the leading role of Jennie when the actress hired to play her (Mia Kirshner) was fired. Sevigny and Korine later went on to make Gummo (1997) together. Korine himself makes a cameo in the club scene with Jennie, as the kid wearing glasses and a Nuclear Assault shirt who gives her drugs, though the part is credited to his brother Avi.

Korine reportedly wrote the film's screenplay in 1993, at the age of 18, and principal photography took place during summer 1994. Contrary to perceptions on the part of many viewers, the film, according to Korine, was almost entirely scripted, with the only exception being the scene with Casper on the couch at the end, which was improvised.[5] Gus Van Sant had originally been attached to the film as a producer. After insufficient interest had been generated in the film, he left the project; under incoming producer Cary Woods, the project found sufficient independent funding for the film. Harvey Weinstein of Miramax, wary of (or perhaps even pressured by) the parent Walt Disney Company's opinion of the risky screenplay, declined to involve Disney in funding the production of the film. After Woods showed him the final cut, however, Miramax paid $3.5 million to buy the worldwide distribution rights of this film.[6]

Controversy

Because of its unexpurgated subject matter centering on relatively young teenagers, Kids has been controversial. The film includes much explicit sexual dialogue and depicts scenes of date rape, physical violence, drug dealing, alcohol abuse, theft, seduction of barely pubescent minors, and explicit teenage sexual displays, as well as (apparently) adolescent actors/actresses in near but not quite explicit exposure. The original version of the film was rated NC-17 in the US.

After this film, Fitzpatrick was constantly dealing with harassment from people who believed he was really like his character, Telly. According to an interview with bit-part actor Jeff Pang (who plays himself), many of the party scenes in the film were completely unscripted. The cameras would roll and the "kids" would just get drunk, get high, and play around. There is debate however, as to whether the "blunt-rolling tutorial" scene in Washington Square Park used real marijuana or not.

The film was later released without a rating.

Reception

Critical reception

The film received mixed reviews, with 49% of critics giving it a positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes.[7] Film critic Janet Maslin of the New York Times called the film a "wake-up call to the modern world" about the nature of present day youth in urban life.[8] Meanwhile, other critics have labeled it exploitative (in the lascivious sense) as borderline "child pornography".[9] Korine attributes the negative reaction to Kids to the expectation on the part of audiences that the film would explicitly make moral judgments on the actions of the characters when Korine gave the film no such moral compass.[10]

Miramax, which was owned by Disney, paid $3.5 million to buy the worldwide distribution rights of this film.[6] Later, Harvey and Bob Weinstein (the co-chairmen of Miramax) were forced to buy back the film from Disney and created Shining Excalibur Films (a one-off company) to release the film, due to Disney's policy forbidding the release of NC-17 rated films. Eamonn Bowles was hired to be the chief operating officer of Shining Excalibur Films.[11]

Box office

The film, which cost $1.5 million to produce, grossed $7.4 million in the North American box office[12] and $20 million worldwide.[13] According to Peter Biskind's book Down and Dirty Pictures, Eamonn Bowles had stated that Harvey and Bob Weinstein might have personally profited up to $2 million each.

Accolades

Soundtrack

Kids Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album
Released1995
GenreLo-fi
Length41:16
LabelLondon
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic4.5/5 stars[15]
Entertainment WeeklyA[16]
NME7/10 stars[17]
Spin8/10 stars[18]
  1. Daniel Johnston – "Casper The Friendly Ghost"
  2. Deluxx Folk Implosion – "Daddy Never Understood"
  3. Folk Implosion – "Nothing Gonna Stop"
  4. Folk Implosion – "Jenny's Theme"
  5. Folk Implosion – "Simean Groove"
  6. Daniel Johnston – "Casper the Friendly Ghost"
  7. Folk Implosion – "Natural One"
  8. Sebadoh – "Spoiled"
  9. Folk Implosion – "Crash"
  10. Folk Implosion – "Wet Stuff"
  11. Lo-Down – "Mad Fright Night"
  12. Folk Implosion – "Raise the Bells"
  13. Slint – "Good Morning, Captain"
Other songs not included on the soundtrack

References

  1. ^ "KIDS (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 1996-04-11. http://www.bbfc.co.uk/AFF065932/. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
  2. ^ Kids box office information at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "Harmony-Korine.com – Kids". Archived from the original on 2006-11-08. http://web.archive.org/web/20061108044626/http://www.harmony-korine.com/paper/main/c_kidscast.html. Retrieved 2007-01-12.
  4. ^ Bowen, Peter. Summer 1995. "The Little Rascals." Retrieved 2009-10-29.
  5. ^ Lyons, Tom. 1997-10-16. "Southern Culture on the Skids". The Eye. Retrieved 2009-11-6.
  6. ^ a b "Controversy: 'Kids' for Adults", Newsweek, February 20, 1995
  7. ^ Kids at rottentomatoes.com
  8. ^ Kids at Rotten Tomatoes; last accessed May 22, 2007.
  9. ^ Rita Kempley (1995-08-25). "'Kids' (NR)". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/kidsnrkempley_c029f5.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger. 1995-6-5. Harmony Korine Interview Retrieved November 2, 2009
  11. ^ Roman, Monica; "Bowles distrib'n prez for Shooting Gallery: Ex-Goldwyn arthouse exec brings sound instincts to Gallery"; January 8, 1998.
  12. ^ Box Information for Kids at the-numbers.com
  13. ^ Klady, Leonard. "Bookie bets on 'Paradise'" Daily Variety May 7, 1997
  14. ^ Awards page for Kids at the Internet Movie Database
  15. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/kids-original-soundtrack-mw0000174690
  16. ^ Entertainment Weekly (8/18/95, p.55) - "...it is as dark, beautiful, and uncommercial as the film it accompanies....But the haunting, gritty results are suprisingly addictive for a score..." - Rating: A
  17. ^ NME (Magazine) (4/13/96, p.49) - 7 (out of 10) - "...a splendid record [that]...pull[s] off the effortlessly cool dance fusion of rattly hip-hop beats and copyright-Barlow sonic doodles....[it] works, both as a collection of songs `inspired by' the film, and as a Folk Implosion extravaganza."
  18. ^ Spin (10/95, p.120) - 8 - Very Good - "...the music to...KIDS is an inextricable component. It provides a crucial emotional center in a brutally cold picture....Lou Barlow seems an unlikely choice to score the bulk of this street flick, but he's modified his music to fit KIDS's urban vibe..."

External links