(1993, Harold Ramis) versus KIDS
(1995, Larry Clark)
If I may, I’d like to begin with a question. Have you ever lived a moment, or a day in your lives that you regret? We’ve all remembered moments that we were less than proud of and told ourselves ‘Gosh (or f*ck!, or crappers), if only I could relive that day again. I would do things differently, I would do them the right way.’ But of course, that isn’t possible. One cannot physically travel into the past to correct ones wrongdoings, or not yet at least. So that’s why mommy and daddy teach us to ‘forgive and forget’, one of the many important lessons in life, along with ‘don’t leave the stove on while you’re gone,’ (achieved) ‘don’t get high on your own supply’ (failed), ‘go in there with a Trojan’ (classified information). But what if you had to relive a moment to correct you wrongs? What if you were to relive the same day, again, and again, and again, until you’ve finally made things right, with no hints as to what it is you’ve done wrong?
Weatherman Phil Conners (Bill Murray), when on a Groundhog Day assignment in an excruciatingly boring small town outside of Pittsburgh, is forced to go through such a misadventure, for reasons unexplained. He is rude, cocky, needy, picky and egotistical. His co-workers, Rita (Andie MacDowell) and Larry (Chris Elliot) are annoyed and fed up with his behaviour. That night, cranky Phil goes to sleep in the hotel bed and wakes up the next morning, but not really. To his amazement it is still Groundhog Day. Everybody who spoke to him the previous day is speaking to him in exactly the same manner today. All the events that occurred yesterday are happening again. That’s because today is yesterday and yesterday is today. Wowsa. Phil has entered the Twilight Zone, or a better idea for The Happening.
Of course this is Phil’s punishment for being such an arrogant snob with everyone around him. With every passing day he learns more about the pretty Rita and begins to understand that to be with someone so nice, one has to be nice in return. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Nice lesson. I read that in a fortune cookie… I think. I don’t know, it was something cheap anyways.
Director Ramis and writer Danny Rubin play their cards handsomely. With the exception of a few off beat scenes (the suicide ones for instance. Once was okay but they hammer the idea on the viewer’s head a bit much), the movie is mostly good natured fun. The jokes are light and harmless for the most part. Murray has a certain charisma to him that explains why he played in so many of these comedies in the late 80s and early 90s. He is aloof but usually sharp with the one liners nonetheless. There were a few moments during which Murray felt flat, a bit too deadpan even for my tastes, but he was still okay. I should point out that the movie wasn’t as funny as I remembered it. I did see it a long time ago and many of the scenes felt new to me, but I didn’t laugh that hard very often. In fact I didn’t laugh that often period, I smiled a lot. Don’t mistake me, there were some good scenes, but few carried any real good comedic flare.
I don’t think a viewer discount the film entirely even if it isn’t the funniest thing put to screen however. The story is quite well structured for a comedy. The idea is very clever and handled carefully I would argue. There is a moral to the story, as I pointed out earlier in this review, but it stems very naturally from the proceedings. It didn’t feel forced, or spoon fed at any time. Maybe near the end things get a bit too obvious and subtlety is tossed aside briefly, but it doesn’t hinder the rest of the film. There was something interesting in seeing Murray’s character gradually learn what proper, decent, human behaviour is all about. It was a clever idea I felt not to make that journey complete too quickly. What I mean by that is the filmmakers put his character through a trial and error process until he finally understands what is to respect and love another person. Instead of jumping to the logical conclusion after only a few days, he continuously makes silly mistakes, and is thus further punished by reliving Groundhog Day over and over again. For example, at first he tries to remember bits of information regarding Rita’s habits and likes and dislikes in order to selfishly sweep her off her feat and bed her. This is the egotistical path since he’s not really being nice, what with his motive being far from altruistic. It is only from learning from his earlier mistakes that he can improve himself as a human being.
With this in mind, I would argue that Groundhog Day
is a good movie to see some genuine character development. It’s a bit on the simplistic side, and I would think it is aimed at the ‘family’ audience (rarely my kind of film at this stage in my life) but it isn’t without its merits, of which there are several.
Small confession: There is one day I wish I could relive again to correct some wrongs, but it involves apple sauce and flames and is far too graphic for this message board. Which brings me to…
Oh, kids these days. They grow up so fast don’t they? One day they are looking at you in the eye in that cuddly way and calling you ‘mama’ or ‘papa’, the next they are taking a leak on the street right before their next conquest for some pussy, or cock, whatever your preference, I won’t judge you.
is Larry Clark’s 1995 film about a certain group of youngsters in New York city who are arguably as corrupt as I imagine teenagers their age can be. Drugs, alcohol and lots and lots of unprotected sex are the three virtues these lads stand by. The same standards apply to the young ladies as well mind you. They’re always willing for a good tussle in the sack too. The story unravels over the course of one day in the lives of about 2-3 guys and 1 girl in particular, with a few supporting characters showing up. The two main rugrats of the film are Telly, played by Leo Fitzpatrick, and Casper, played by Justin Pierce. They are the most foul-mouthed teens I had ever heard speak. Man, do those little devils ever like to say CINECAST!, pussy, cock, bitch, fag, asshole, FILMSPOTTER!, dyke, cock-sucker, nigger, or it’s slang version, nigga… The former, Telly, is on a personal quest for the day. Upon waking up that morning next to his latest lady friend, he deflowered her after using some rather nice and caring words. With one virgin scored already, skinny Leo is on the prowl for one more. Two virgins in the same day. You the man Telly! He is accompanied by his bud Casper as they visit friends, make the purchase of weed and kick the shite out of an overly confident Black guy. On the female of the story is Jennie, played by Chloe Sevigny. She and her friend Ruby (Rosario Dawson, a little bit young, but ‘wassup’ to see her in a film like this nonetheless) pay a visit to the health clinic to test themselves for the HIV virus. Jeannie has only been to bed with one fellow, prince charming himself Telly, whereas Ruby is a screwaholic. The results of their tests come back and it turns out Ruby is fine, but Jeannie is in trouble. But if Jeannie is in trouble, than that probably means Telly is in trouble too. Isn’t he out shagging girls left and right?…
The film holds no punches, absolutely none. This is as raw an experience as a viewer will find in American cinema. It is the anti-Groundhog Day film. There are consequences to the foolish behaviours of these social parasites. They know no rules, no boundaries and live their lives accordingly. They have little concern for consequences, be they emotional, such as when a girl is left for another one, or physical, such as when a man has the living daylights beat out of him and his face turned to marmalade. They are the product of a care free lifestyle gone wrong. They are also the product of poverty. They don’t live in the most glamorous of neighbourhoods, are surrounded by sketchy people who deal drugs or are sick, possibly HIV positive even. It’s a rotten community, rotten to its very core and the children and teenagers that inhabit this world are victims and the violators in this word without a ray of light . People will be turned off by this movie. The teenagers featured are vulgar beyond belief, and their actions are more often twice as worse than their language. But the reality of situation is that such neighbourhoods do exist. When people aren’t educated and don’t have the money to leave their socio-economic status and are negatively influenced by their peers, they will perform dumbass shite. As shocking as this film will be to some, the real tragedy is that this stuff does occur in real life. Albeit the events depicted in KIDS are fictional, none are exaggerations. There is a brutal honesty to the picture that is as unforgiving as it is fascinating.
Fascinating to see young teens and kids rolling blunts, getting high as a kite, demonstrating less than exemplary behaviour towards others? Yes, it is absolutely fascinating because that is where the problem begins. When the children aren’t guided to be model citizens- you, to hell with that. When children aren’t given the means to be decent human beings, trouble is bound to stir. In fact, when they, at their impressionable ages, are encouraged to follow bad behaviour, a shit storm will surely result. At the risk of brining up a cliché, the movie is relevant and carries a certain degree of importance. It may not be a documentary, but damnit if it isn’t far off.
There is one fascinating scene (among others) which is cut between two different locations. At one apartment, the boys are getting their high on, talking about their fornicating exploits, while at the other apartment, the girls are discussing sex. The latter group are not necessarily the brightest people on the block, but they do demonstrate an inkling of more maturity than their bull dog counterparts. There topics range from getting niked with virgins (boys), losing virginity (girls), eating pussy (boys), the difference between making love, sex and CINECAST!ing (girls), how girls love to suck cock (boys) and how girls hate sucking cock (girls, and it’s because getting rid semen from one’s teeth is as irritating as it sounds). The scene is great I believe because it plainly shows where these youngsters are in the maturity stage, and how they feed off one another’s behavior. Despite the foul and sometimes funny comments, the scene does an impeccable job of setting up these characters. That one scene speaks volumes about how these teens operate.
I’ve gone on long enough, but I would like to point out that Chloe Sevigny is quite good in the film. Her role demands far more emotional weight than anyone else’s in the story and she passes the test with flying colors, if not her HIV test.
KIDS is a must see for those who like their movie watching experiences to be as visceral and brutal as can probably be permitted on screen. Freddy Krueger, Michael and that Predalien can take a hike. The real evil is when youth have a lack of direction in their lives, as is plainly demonstrated here by Larry Clark and his brave, brave cast, who, despite their obvious youth, go in with no holds barred. Groundhog Day
is much beloved by many, and rightfully so. I may not fully embrace the film, but I do recognize its charms. There are some funny moments, Bill Murray gives a fine performance, and the story and its structure hold up throughout the entire film. Not to mention that there is a valuable lesson to be learned if any of you have been acting like a jerk all these years. But I would argue that in KIDS
, there is a more pressing lesson to be learned. The lesson about poverty, about what happens when delinquent kids aren’t givn any directions out of the muck holes they were born in. ‘Our children are our future’ so goes the saying.
Some people didn’t get the memo. Kids