Kids (1995)

Being controversial does not make a good flick.

The film follows teens over the course of two days during the mid-1990’s where the HIV/AIDS epidemic started to run rampant. Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick) is on a mission to deflower as many virgins as possible with an addle-brained theory that boffing first-timers will protect him from contracting HIV. Trouble is, he already has it.

As everybody knows director Larry Clark is a dude that loves to shock people with his constant showings of teens shirtless, doing drugs, banging a lot, and just doing evil things that parents don’t think they would normally do. In ways, this works for me, but in others, it just doesn’t even seem like it matters.

Yes, this film is an eye-opener for parents if not one of the first flicks to do that, so I will give Clark that. There’s a lot of dirty stuff that goes on here that is very shocking, but it’s also somewhat true considering I see a lot of this now that I am in my last year of high-school. Now I don’t know any kids that go around deflowering chicks like Telly here but I can say that the weed smoking, the drinking, and the constant partying with sex everywhere is definitely what goes down in high-schools in real-life. It’s not as effed up as this flick makes it out to be but in reality, this stuff does happen and I think that’s where the film at least had me at.

However, despite this realistic view, the film still had its major flaws that took me out of this film completley. Within the first 10 minutes we realize that the two main character, Telly and Casper, are not only the biggest assholes in the world but two kids that have no redeeming quality about them whatsoever. It’s not like they didn’t seem realistic, because I may actually know some kids that are just like this, but it’s the fact that they are so unlikable makes you just wanna beat the crap out of them the whole film and actually pray that they do. These are the types of kids you see messing with old people on the boardwalk and get themselves bootie-raped in jail because they weren’t wise enough to watch the eff they say in the clink. It sucks because we spend the whole film watching them to do stupid shit considering they are terribly unlikable but then again, not every main character in films have to be likable.

Another problem with this flick is that even though there is so much damn shock-value, everything still feels rather dull. There are moments here that are totally devoid of plot and just have these characters talking frankly about their sexual experiences, smoke weed, and drink beer for long-ass periods of time. I’m not saying that this sort of stuff isn’t done amongst teenagers, but after about the 3rd time in the first 30 minutes you see these kids getting high and talking about boning, then it just gets old real quick. I also couldn’t help but think that I highly doubt kids talk about how they are going to find every virgin and have sex them and then talk about how they did it and whatnot. I don’t really think actual kids talk about this kind of stuff but writer Harmony Korine apparently does.

Clark was pretty smart in choosing actual young, teenage actors for these roles because it actually makes us feel like were watching real kids up on-screen rather than some 30-year old who’s trying to play a sophomore in high-school. Chloe Sevigny is good here as Jenny, and her story is not only the only actual sight of any heart in this flick but it’s also one of the more realistic; Rosario Dawson also shows up in one of her first ever appearances and that’s pretty cool too; and Justin Pierce is actually pretty good as Casper, but it’s a shame that the kid died 5 years later because he seems like he could have actually done something with his career.

Most of you probably noticed that I didn’t even mention the main character, Telly. One of the main reasons for that is because the actor who’s playing Telly, Leo Fitzpatrick, can’t act for shit. Telly is a character that is supposed to be a total stud because of his sly moves, sexy look, and just overall cool act but Fitzpatrick is neither of them. Instead he says every word as if he was reading notes he wrote on his hands before filming, he’s skinny as Kate Moss, and the things he says is laughably bad and I don’t know if that was actually intentional or not but I caught myself laughing a whole lot at what this dick-head was saying to these girls just to get them in bed. Hell, they should have called me up for this role even though I was probably 2 at the time but still, I got more game than this joke for a kid.

Consensus: Kids has shock value and rings true in certain elements, but feels rather dull mainly because the script features moments that have no actual development of plot, or even its awfully flawed characters for that matter and the lead actor, Leo Fitzpatrick, can’t act one bit and we have to watch him struggle the whole 90 minutes.



  1. Hey Dan! Your blog is so well-done that I had no idea that you’re so young. Conversely, I’m an old dude. I saw “Kids” back in the ’90s. Based on my vague recollection, this review is SPOT-ON! Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

  2. haha scathing review! I like this film a lot. Even got to meet Larry Clark when he was putting on an art exhibition in London. However after watching some of his other films, I think he’s a bit of an odd guy with an strange unhealthy obsession with young people and sexuality etc.

    • I don’t understand what that’s all about and it’s a little freaky but I will admit that he can be pretty damn shocking. Bully was better though. Thanks Pete!

  3. I too am one of your older readers turning 50 in a few months. I remember the film as well. What disrurbed me was that rather than being a cautionary story for parents and youth it turned into a how-to for creepy horn dogs. Worse yet it shows sex with an unconscious girl.

  4. Whatta zinger this review is. Love it. I actually agree with a lot of what you said. Kids is always remembered as this controversial, indie game-changer, and while Clark took a lot of risks and went outside the norm to tell his story, the film isn’t really that good.

    Definitely agree that Leo Fitzpatrick’s acting is shit here. Which is so odd, given that he was remarkable in The Wire just a few years later.

  5. “Clark was pretty smart in choosing actual young, teenage actors for these roles because it actually makes us feel like were watching real kids up on-screen rather than some 30-year old who’s trying to play a sophomore in high-school. ”

    You hit the nail on the head with that sentence. The opening scene is so shocking precisely because the boy and girl look so young. They look so young because we are used to seeing people 10-15 years older than them playing characters of the same age.

  6. I still haven’t seen this, but you make me feel like I’m not missing too much. I’ve seen Bully by Clark and was prety shocked/disgusted. Maybe that was enough.

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