Kaboom (2010)

Kaboom (2010)


Okay so I think I might write an expanded review of this film for 12ftdwende.com (edit: and now I have, http://12ftdwende.com/family/?p=4722; further edit: that link is now dead) when it gets a wider release. (It’s currently playing in New York and Los Angeles and played the Sundance Film Festival; I saw it OnDemand.) In the meantime I’ll just sum up some brief thoughts. An alternate title for this movie could be Pretty People Fucking and Oh Yeah the World Might End Too, but that’s a little long to fit on a marquis. I liked this movie though it’s hard to articulate why since it disjointed and may in fact be trying to rip off Donnie Darko, but instead going in a weird different direction with a lot more casual bisexual sex. A LOT more. The sort of apocalyptic, science fiction-y elements of the film don’t actually seem to have a whole lot to do with the promiscuity that takes up most of the screen time. Actually this reminds me of the type of screenplays I used to write when I was 15 that basically centered around characters with the sex life I wished I had. If only I had an agent back then I could have been on the vanguard of the indie scene. Oh well, my potential was squandered as usual. That might actually be why I liked this movie. That and the fact that I now totally have a thing for Juno Temple. Don’t know if that helps anybody but like I said, I think I’ll write a more well-thought-out piece later.

12FTDWENDE.COM ARTICLE (originally published 4 February 2011)

So when I was a teenager I used to write screenplays. Several unfinished ones were about characters who were like me (surprise, surprise) but who had the sex life I wished I had. Plus maybe something zany would happen with like, I don’t know, science fiction elements like perhaps the impending apocalypse. Like I said, I never really finished them. Well, the joke’s on me and my wasted potential as Gregg Araki had a very buzzed-about film at Sundance called Kaboom. An alternate title for the movie could be Pretty People Fucking and Oh Yeah Also the World Might End Soon. I don’t think that would fit on a marquis though… plus the MPAA (bastards) have a problem with the word “fucking” in movie titles. Distributors aren’t crazy about it either (marketing trouble and all that). Kaboom is playing theatrically in New York and Los Angeles, but I couldn’t find any information about a wider release. However it is available through OnDemand (in the “Sundance Selects” category) until April. (EDIT: Obviously that has long since expired, though it’s now in semi-regular rotation on premium cable. Showtime or The Movie Channel, I forget which.)

The movie stars Thomas Dekker as Smith. You might remember Dekker from his chest exploding in last year’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. If you have a longer memory than that you might remember him as a Claire’s friend in the first season of Heroes who didn’t seem interested in Claire in “that way.” That’s because the writers of Heroes intended his character to be gay. However Dekker was up for the part of John Conner in Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles (he got it) and his representation didn’t want him playing gay for fear that the Terminator producers… um… wouldn’t appreciate that an actor has range I guess… so his character’s sexuality was never mentioned (though he still didn’t hook up with Claire). Anyway he seems to have gotten over it, because Smith in Kaboom is a big fan of the gay sex. Also the straight sex though so maybe he felt that “de-gayed” it or something.

Anyway Thomas Dekker’s willingness to play alternative lifestyles notwithstanding, Smith is a young bisexual (though he rejects the term and prefers “undeclared”) college student who is crushing on his heterosexual roommate Thor (Chris Zylka), because this is one of those indie movies that uses unusual names to show off how quirky it is. He spends most of his time hanging out with his wisecracking lesbian best friend Stella (Haley Bennet), who recently starting dating a girl named Lorelei (Roxane Mesquida), who has supernatural powers. While this is treated as unusual by the main characters, it’s treated less as a “HOLY SHIT THIS GIRL HAS POWERS” and more of a “huh, that’s odd” type of unusual (possibly because said powers include giving Stella touchless orgasms, which is a gift most would choose not to question). It just shows how hip they all are. Oh, also Smith keeps having these weird dreams and while tripping on drugs he possibly witnesses a murder by some kind of weird cult or maybe it was a hallucination but he has this weird feeling like the world is going to end. It’s that kind of movie.

Everything is connected and so is everyone from the stoned R.A. (James Duval from Donnie Darko, a movie this has some similarity to) to Smith’s new fuck buddy London (Juno Temple). Her name is London and she’s British. Isn’t that quirky? Itemizing things like that it really seems like I should hate this movie but I didn’t. I actually rather liked it. The naked people might have had a bit to do with that, but if that was the case the internet is full of movies that are nothing but naked people. While we’re on the subject of naked people (they are fun to talk about) I should point out that is it equal opportunity nudity. For those of us “undeclared” that’s not much of a problem but for some people are put off by man-ass so I thought I’d throw a warning out there.

I think a lot of the appeal has to do with the cast. Dekker seems as lost with all the weirdness around him as anyone watching the movie so he’s identifiable though more judgmental viewers might point out, not inaccurately, that he’s kind of a slut. But pretty much everyone in this indulges the non-monogamous lifestyle of “sexual liberation.” Haley Bennet does great deadpan snark in what is essentially a sidekick role, though she does have her supernatural lesbian stalker subplot. Chris Zylka plays Thor as a good-natured moron, though it is implied there may be more to him than meets the eye. And then of course there’s Juno Temple. I can’t tell if she was really as charming as I remember or if it’s just that she’s really fucking hot and she’s naked a bunch… either way, bravo!

I know this review seems pretty shallow and focused on the sex but that’s because this movie seems pretty shallow and focused on the sex. I can’t help but get the feeling there’s deeper meaning to it, even my brain can’t grasp it (or is otherwise distracted by the aforementioned nudity). I basically want to recommend this movie but I can’t say exactly what it is I’m recommending. It’s not just pointless titillation (like I said, you can get that with an internet connection). It reminds me a bit of the first several times I saw Donnie Darko. I still don’t entirely get the point, but I liked the way that things came together. It’s worth checking out I think. Even if you hate it (and for the record I am expecting there to be a pretty sharp divide between people who love and hate this movie even though I fall more into the “kinda like it” category) it is an interesting movie experience. And there’s nudity. Just had to mention that one last time in case you didn’t get it.

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