Comments on watching and making films.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

DVD - Wassup Rockers

Larry Clark made a huge splash with his feature film debut, Kids, which courted a lot of controversy upon its release because of its frank depiction of underage characters involved in sex and drugs. He has dredged up some bit of controversy with every film since. His latest, Wassup Rockers, was released to strong critical reviews in 2006, but didn't seem to receive much of a theatrical release. I finally picked it up on DVD the other day, because I had heard so many good words about it. I've haven't seen any of Clark's other films, but I figured this was as good as any to start with. Unfortunately, I think I was wrong.

Wassup Rockers is the story of a group of Latino friends, in South Central Los Angeles, who spend their time listening to punk rock, drinking beer, talking about sex, and, most importantly, skateboarding. Skateboarding is their outlet, their way of getting away from the prejudice they face at their school because of the clothes they wear and the way they look (other kids make fun of them because they wear tight clothes, like rock stars, and wear their hair long). The film follows them, for the most part, for a day as they travel from South Central to Beverly Hills to skateboard, and have numerous "adventures" along the way. 

My problem with this film is that its not really a fictional story, and not really a documentary, and the little story it does have seems pretty trite and cliche. When the boys meet two rich, white, horny girls in school girl outfits, that invite them back to their mansion... I was done. I mean, c'mon! Really? Let's get real. Now the Beverly Hills cop giving them a hassle because of their brown skin? That's a possibility, but a lot of the other things that happen in this film seem ludicrous.

Clark rounded up a group of kids that are actually from South Central, non-actors, to play the part, and the "realism" tends to get a little boring some times. Add, on top of that, a plot line that includes a bunch of ridiculous incidents that we, as an audience, have seen in one way or another (and done much better) in other films, and Wassup Rockers just seems kind of pointless. It doesn't teach me anything new about these kids. Does it surprise me that 13/14/15 year old boys are skating, talking about sex, and listening to music? No. Why would it? Does it surprise me that a bunch of Latino kids suffer racism at the hands of some of the black kids in their neighborhood, or by the LAPD? No. So what's the point? I don't feel, as an audience member, that I saw anything in this movie that was worth my hour and forty minutes.

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