It's said Kids is cautionary tale, made to show us the kinds of things young teens end up doing when they have nothing else to do. Okay, what else? The answer is, nothing. This movie could've been made into a short public service announcement and achieved just as much. You know those World's Wildest Police Chase shows, it's the same gimmick here, only this is the perverted teenage version. It's above and beyond what is necessary to make the point, but unlike police chases this isn't fun to watch. And I'm not even sure I believe this movie is meant as a wake up call. I find the lack of moral reckoning is cause for suspicion. It makes me wonder about the director. He seems content to merely observe. It's like he wanted to make a documentary, but since a documentary wouldn't be as graphic he made a movie instead. I find the whole thing a rather dubious accomplishment.
I think the film is at its worst is whenever is slips into either of those two modes — PSA mode or "oh, you thought that was bad, wait till you see this!" mode. Telly's first bit of narration about how much he loves himself some virgins teetered on the brink of the latter, but the way the "Kids" title card slammed in there at the end salvaged that moment I thought, actually making me laugh out loud. (I read it as a parody of like the classic "Kids these days..." grumblings of an old person.) The one glaring "after school special" moment was at the clinic. In fairness to the film, clinics do sort of operate in "after school special" mode, so that was actually a bit of realism, but I still think it was sort of a mistake.
Those two examples are sort of minor. It's the last scene between Casper and Jennie that really undercuts the film for me. It actually feels like a cop-out, like Korine just didn't know how to write the confrontation between Jennie and Telly that the film has been building towards (probably rationalizing that such a scene would be too conventional), so instead he opted for shock value, trying to one-up all the behavior that has come before. "Okay, I'll have him rape her while she's passed out. Wait, that's not enough. I'll have him do it in a room full of passed out people. Better yet, we'll put one of the younger kids on the same couch, and as Casper rapes
Jennie (lol), the motion will jostle the kid in his sleep. Oh, perfect, that'll shock the hell out of the audience!" Except it's not shocking at all because it's the most fake and constructed moment in the entire film, replete with empty irony and cheapening much of what came before.
The elegiac shots of the morning streets that follow up that scene are really nice, though—
—but the final shot of Casper asking, "What just happened?" or whatever reminded me way too much of Reefer Madness
—not in a good way.