Wednesday, April 6, 2011


"What Kind of Guy Are You?"
"Madeleine O'Hara, What Do You Know About the Animal-Mask Men?"

I was trying to concoct some bogus review for a non-existent movie to play as an April Fool's Prank, but Gregg Araki's Kaboom will do just as well.

A farcical paranoid comedy/sex-romp,* it revolves around two 18 year old college students, Smith (Thomas Dekker) and his "partner-in-crime," "'vag-itarian' best friend" Stella (Haley Bennett), who are both experiencing odd disruptions in their sex-lives.  Smith is "undeclared" sexually, attracted to all sexes, but right now, specifically, to his meat-head surfer roommate Thor ("Like the comic ... shyeah!"), and Stella is gay (even if her attitude is anything but).  Both are majoring in go-nowhere subjects (she in Art and he in Cinema Studies), which is alright as a) Stella wryly (as per usual) says "college is just a pit-stop between High School and the rest of your life," and b) what they're learning outside of class is far more relevant, if not entirely explainable. 

At one particular mixer, Stella hooks up with Lorelei (Roxane Mesquida) who claims to have "special powers"—she's a witch and not a nice one (of course, witches can become clingy and domineering, they're witches!)—while Smith falls victim to a hallucinogenic appetizer and a one night stand with London (Juno Temple)—they have a lot in common, such as both losing their fathers early, being fascinated with each other, and being amateur sleuths to all the odd occurrences happening on campus.**  "Strange seems to be the new normal," says Smith, as he copes with flashes of dreams involving people he hasn't met (yet), and the suspicion that while in his drugged state he was witness to a brutal cult-murder.  Smith has a hard time deciding whether he's in reality or fantasy-mode, something that will stand him in good stead for the adventure to come.

Kaboom is fast, cheap, and out-of-control (but good-naturedly so), fairly well-acted (which is surprising, although "slacker" isn't the toughest acting challenge to pull off), the comedy is fresh, funny, nicely played in a Buster Keaton-ish dead-pan and comes from very unexpected places.  Araki's direction, meanwhile, whirls around and gets in the faces of his "'Friends' with benefits," wheeling between blinking-in-your face close-ups, and disorienting fever-dreams.  Every few minutes there's a flash of weirdness that has nothing to do with sex--which is all very casual, as opposed to more hung-up directors who like to set it up, telegraph it, and underline it with high-lighter.***

It almost feels like a bizzarro "Scooby-Doo" episode, with no dog and where everybody has the convoluted "friends share" sexual history of Fleetwood Mac.  Even the last movie-ending scene has a whiff of "if it wasn't for those darny nosey kids" to it.

Not everbody's recipe for a fresh time at the movies, but a good, goofy, twisted diversion.

Kaboom is a Rental.

* One place calls it "Sci-Fi," but I don't see it.  It's much more in the "innocent caught in the intrigue" sub-category of Mystery-Thrillers.

** What can I say, it's set at a California college, all sci-fi architecture of open-air teutonic concrete.  Great place for a mystery.

** All the better to make their own chapters on the DVD menu...anyway, Araki makes no big deal of it.  Sex happens.  And in California, so do cult-murders.

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