So much hype has surrounded Kids, the gritty, "not rated" feature about New York teens, that it was almost impossible to go into the film objectively. I was expecting an ultra-graphic film about sex, drugs, and life on the mean city streets. That's about what I got.
The film follows a few characters through one day in New York City. Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick) and his buddy Casper (Justin Pierce) skateboard, do a little petty thievery, drink malt liquor, hustle drugs, beat up a black man, throw some dice, and if a virgin or two happen to cross their path, Telly is only too happy to perform a little "virgin surgery." On their trail is Jennie (Chloe Sevigny), a prior virginal conquest of Telly's, who discovers she is HIV-positive that morning and is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
When the boys aren't wandering, they're talking. And when they're talking, it is always about sex. Written by 19-year old Harmony Korine, the dialogue is completely on the mark yet is totally disgusting. Too bad there's no one around to wash some mouths out with soap.
The film is shocking, not because the subject matter is foreign to us, but rather, because for all intents and purposes, these really are Kids, barely into puberty. The movie is shot almost like a documentary, and the sheer "realness" of the picture is what has parents, teens, Bob Dole, and the MPAA staring with their mouths agape.
Although watching these disgusting kids do disgusting things over and over gets old after awhile, the movie is unforgettable. The cast assembled here is rough and unpolished--perfect for the subject matter. Director Larry Clark brings his skill at photography to brilliant use, showing the underbelly of New York in all its seamy squalor.
"There's nothing in the world to worry about." This is one of the many lines in Telly's arsenal when soothing his virgins during their initiation. It's also the most frightening statement in the film, showing just how sad the state of youth in America really is these days. Deeply shocking and disturbing, this film's hype exists for a reason.