Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Larry Clark|
|Produced by||Cary Woods|
|Written by||Harmony Korine|
|Edited by||Christopher Tellefsen|
|Distributed by||Shining Excalibur Films|
|Box office||$20.4 million|
Kids is a 1995 American coming-of-age drama exploitation film directed by Larry Clark and written by Harmony Korine. It stars Leo Fitzpatrick, Justin Pierce, Chloë Sevigny, and Rosario Dawson, all in their film debuts. Primarily set during the course of one day, Fitzpatrick, Pierce, Sevigny, Dawson, and other newcomers portray a group of teenagers in New York City with hedonistic behavior toward sex and drugs during the mid-1990s.
The film generated a massive controversy upon its release in 1995 and caused much public debate over its artistic merit. It received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, but was released without a rating. Critical response was mixed, and the film grossed $20.4 million on a $1.4 million budget.
The film begins when a boy named Telly and an unnamed 12-year-old girl are making out on a bed. With no adults around, Telly, who is a few years older, persuades the girl, who is a virgin, to have sex with him. Afterwards, he meets with his best friend, Casper, and they talk about his sexual experience. Telly has taken to only having sex with virgins. They go inside a local store, where Casper shoplifts a 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor as Telly distracts the cashier. Looking for drugs, food, and a place to hang out, they head to their friend Paul's apartment, though they express dislike of him on the way there. They arrive at Paul's house, join the other boys in boasting about their sexual prowess (as well as their nonchalant attitudes to both unprotected sex and diseases), and smoke marijuana while watching a skating video. Casper inhales nitrous oxide out of balloons, which Telly considers dangerous.
Across the city, a group of girls, among them Ruby and Jennie, are talking about sex, with their attitudes contradicting the boys on many topics, particularly oral sex and the significance of the boys to whom they lost their virginities. 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 sex.
Jennie tests positive for HIV. She says she has had sex only once, with Telly. Jennie spends the rest of the day trying to find Telly, to prevent him from passing it on. Telly and Casper walk to Telly's house and steal money from Telly's mother, who is preoccupied with taking care of her new baby.
They go to Washington Square Park and buy a dime bag of marijuana from a rastafarian. They then meet up with a few friends to talk and smoke, one of whom gives a blunt-rolling tutorial. As they do, Casper and many others taunt a homosexual couple passing through the park. On the side, Telly briefly talks to Misha, a girl who strongly dislikes Casper, calling him a jerk.
As Casper rides on a skateboard, he 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 Casper's friend Harold, causing him to collapse. A number of other skaters join in, beating, stomping, and hitting the man with their skateboards until he is rendered unconscious by a final blow to the head by Casper.
While discussing whether or not they killed the man at the park, Telly and some of the group pick up a 13-year-old girl named Darcy— the virginal younger sister of an acquaintance— whom Telly wants to have sex with. He convinces her to go with them to a pool. The other girls engage in kissing and flirtation, but Darcy is restrained. Telly and the group go to an unsupervised party at the house of another friend, Steven.
Meanwhile, Jennie makes her way to Washington Square Park. Here, she talks to Misha, who tells her about Telly's possible whereabouts. Jennie goes to a rave club called "NASA" trying to find Telly. She runs into Fidget, a raver boy, who shoves a pill into her mouth, which he says is supposed to make "Special K look weak". It turns out to be a depressant. The pill kicks in and Jennie eventually finds out that Telly is at the party at Steven's house.
Jennie arrives at the party only to learn she is too late, as she discovers Telly having sex with Darcy. Emotionally drained and the drug still affecting her, Jennie cries and passes out on a couch among the other sleeping partygoers. Casper rapes Jennie as she sleeps, inadvertently exposing himself to HIV. Another teen at the party was able to witness the assault. As morning turns to day, a voice-over by Telly explains how sex is the only worthwhile thing in his life. The next morning, Casper wakes up and says "Jesus Christ, what happened?"
Additionally, Sarah Henderson portrays the first girl Telly is seen having sex with and Tony Morales and Walter Youngblood portray the homosexual couple. Julie Stebe-Glorius and Christina Stebe-Glorious appear as Telly's mother and younger brother, respectively. The Rastafari is played by an actor credited as "Dr. Henry". Screenwriter Harmony Korine has an uncredited appearance as Fidget.
– Larry Clark
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 given the leading role of Jennie when the actress hired to play her (Mia Kirshner) was fired. Sevigny and Korine later made Gummo (1997) together. Korine makes a cameo in the club scene with Jennie, as the kid wearing Coke-bottle 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 19, and principal photography took place during the summer of 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. Gus Van Sant had 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 parent The 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, Miramax paid $3.5 million to buy the worldwide distribution rights of this film.
The film received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reports a positive score of 46% based on 56 reviews, with an average rating of 7.95/10. The site's consensus reads, "Kids isn't afraid to test viewers' limits, but the point of its nearly non-stop provocation is likely to be lost in all the repellent characters and unpleasant imagery". It was championed by some prominent critics, including Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun Times, who gave the film 3.5 stars out of 4. In his review, he stated "Kids is the kind of movie that needs to be talked about afterward. It doesn't tell us what it means. Sure, it has a "message," involving safe sex. But safe sex is not going to civilize these kids, make them into curious, capable citizens. What you realize, thinking about Telly, is that life has given him nothing that interests him, except for sex, drugs and skateboards. His life is a kind of hell, briefly interrupted by orgasms." Other critics derided the film, with the most common criticism relating to the perceived lack of artistic merit.
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. However, other critics have labeled it exploitative (in the lascivious sense) as borderline "child pornography".
Feminist scholar bell hooks spoke extensively about the film in Cultural Criticism and Transformation. "Kids fascinated me as a film precisely because when you heard about it, it seemed like the perfect embodiment of the kind of postmodern, notions of journeying and dislocation and fragmentation and yet when you go to see it, it has simply such a conservative take on gender, on race, on the politics of HIV."
Miramax, which was owned by The Walt Disney Company, paid $3.5 million to buy the worldwide distribution rights. 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 at the time forbidding the release of NC-17 rated films. Eamonn Bowles was hired to be the chief operating officer of Shining Excalibur Films.
The film, which cost $1.5 million to produce, grossed $7.4 million in the North American box office and $20 million worldwide. 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.
- 1995 Independent Spirit Awards
- Best Debut Performance – Justin Pierce
- Best First Feature (nominated; director Larry Clark and producer Cary Woods)
- Best First Screenplay (nominated; Harmony Korine)
- Best Supporting Female (nominated; Chloë Sevigny)
In popular culture
• In August 2010, American rapper Mac Miller released the mixtape K.I.D.S., and its cover art, title, and some musical themes pay homage to the film. Some audio clips from the film are also part of the mixtape in between songs.
|Kids Original Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Singles from Kids Original Soundtrack|
Creation of the film's soundtrack was overseen by Lou Barlow.
- Daniel Johnston – "Casper"
- Deluxx Folk Implosion – "Daddy Never Understood"
- Folk Implosion – "Nothing Gonna Stop"
- Folk Implosion – "Jenny's Theme"
- Folk Implosion – "Simean Groove"
- Daniel Johnston – "Casper the Friendly Ghost"
- Folk Implosion – "Natural One"
- Sebadoh – "Spoiled"
- Folk Implosion – "Crash"
- Folk Implosion – "Wet Stuff"
- Lo-Down – "Mad Fright Night"
- Folk Implosion – "Raise the Bells"
- Slint – "Good Morning, Captain"
- "KIDS (18) (!)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- "Kids (1995) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- "Kids (1995) – Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
- "Harmony-Korine.com – Kids". Archived from the original on November 8, 2006. Retrieved January 12, 2007.
- Annear, Judy (2007). Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection. p. 260. ISBN 9781741740066.
- Bowen, Peter. Summer 1995. "The Little Rascals." Retrieved 2009-10-29.
- Lyons, Tom. 1997-10-16. "Southern Culture on the Skids". The Eye. Retrieved 2009-11-6.
- "Controversy: 'Kids' for Adults", Newsweek, February 20, 1995
- "Kids (1995)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
- Ebert, Rogert (July 28, 1995). "Kids Movie Review & Film Summary (1995)". Retrieved March 20, 2016.
- Kids at Rotten Tomatoes; last accessed May 22, 2007.
- Rita Kempley (August 25, 1995). "'Kids' (NR)". Washington Post. Retrieved August 18, 2007.
- Jhally, Sut. "bell hooks: Cultural Criticism & Transformation" (PDF). Retrieved March 31, 2013.
- Monica Roman (January 7, 1998). "Roman, Monica; "Bowles distrib'n prez for Shooting Gallery: Ex-Goldwyn arthouse exec brings sound instincts to Gallery"; January 8, 1998". Variety.com. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
- "Box Information for Kids at". The-numbers.com. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
- Klady, Leonard. "Bookie bets on 'Paradise'" Daily Variety May 7, 1997
- Awards page for Kids at the Internet Movie Database
- "'Jesus Christ. What happened?': Larry Clark's 1995 'Kids' turns 20". Retrieved February 19, 2018. In Eminem & Dr. Dre's 1999 hit song "Guilty Conscience", Dr. Dre raps "Man, ain't you ever seen that one movie 'Kids'?" in the second verse, voicing the guilty conscience of Eminem's character "Stan", about to commit statutory rape, a main theme in the movie.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Kids [Original Soundtrack] - Original Soundtrack | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
- 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 surprisingly addictive for a score ..." - Rating: A
- 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."
- 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 ..."
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