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STUDIO: Warner Home Video

MSRP: $19.97


RUNNING TIME: 95 Minutes


Commentary Track

Theatrical Trailer

The Pitch

“It’s the dramatic parts from the TV version of Fast Times At Ridgemont High mixed with KIDS minus AIDS!”

The Humans

Matt Dillon (a year away from his celebrated role as Melvin Moody in My Bodyguard), Michael Kramer, Pamela Ludwig, Vincent Spano, many unknowns.

The Nutshell

Richie (Matt Dillon) and some other kids run around causing trouble in a suburban housing development called New Granada (which has a higher sticker price than the average old Cordoba). All the parents are too busy selling Cadillacs and whoring out available real estate to worry about their kids’ happiness, so the youngsters find a semi-constructive outlet for their pre-Nintendo urges by hanging out at an isolated morton building known as The Rec. In between the constant partying and clumsy attempts to couple newly-discovered sex parts, that is. The local cops and some snooty town leaders see the kids as little monsters beyond salvage, which is what they act like most of the time. There’s a bit of a love story in there somewhere between a goofy kid named Carl and girl with frizzy hair. After a while, the struggle between humans young and old comes to a head in a final, explosive confrontation outside the local school’s “cafetorium”. Boy, am I glad I didn’t attend that school or ever have to say “cafetorium” out loud.

"Hey man, tag me out, I’ve got to piss!"

The Package

For some reason I’m not sure of, the term "matted widescreen" bothers me, but the picture itself looks okay, despite its age and lack of restoration. There is a rockin’ soundtrack, including FOUR Cheap Trick tunes and songs by The Ramones, The Cars, Jimi Hendrix and Van Halen. The Dolby Digital mono sound doesn’t ever sound better than when a song is playing. More than a few bits of dialogue are hard to hear, and a muffled sentence at one point potentially screws up an important scene upon first viewing. The commentary track with director Jonathan Kaplan, screenwriters Charlie Haas and Tim Hunter and producer George Litto is a friendly, scene-specific reunion after all the resume pimping and name-dropping ceases. The whole enterprise comes off as a bunch of seasoned Hollywood guys looking back at their early days with pride and a bit of nostalgia. The only other special feature on the disc (besides subtitles) is a theatrical trailer, which makes the movie look much more sinister than it actually is.

"Holy crap! It’s Lucy, and she’s in the sky! With diamonds!"

The Lowdown

You know, sometimes parents just don’t understand. Vincent Spano had the exact same acting instincts as a teenager that he has now. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just an observation. Even with some stiff dialogue delivered by the mostly teenage cast and the presence of a drug dealer who looks like a Hanson band member, the film is solidly written and acted. Matt Dillon shows flashes of his future self as the leader of the underage pack, and Michael Kramer as Carl shows some range that we would never notice from him again. Personally, I’m creeped out by movies (like KIDS) that portray children who appear to be 10-12 years old guzzling booze, smoking pot and talking openly about sex. Jesus, I had just started using pointy scissors when I was 12! Only a couple of kids appear that young in the film, but one deals drugs and the other talks about showing off her cleavage, which really doesn’t seem to be there yet.

The teen practice of huffing gunpowder from moving bullets was short-lived.

The only concrete failing of the film is that it doesn’t build up much tension until about halfway through. We see a lot of bad behavior and an overzealous police officer trying to dampen the kids’ good time, but it takes a while to learn where this is all going. When the action starts, however, it doesn’t stop. Much. Leave it to the only caring adult – the attractive, childless Rec Center operator – to act as the moral center here, because you can’t really empathize with any other grown-ups or most of the kids. After all, kids seeking attention and love from absentee parents don’t usually flip over cars, brandish firearms or blow up buildings. But then again, the movie was filmed in
Colorado, so…

7.2 out of 10