Instead of adhering to the norms of their South Central neighborhood, a group of skater boys opt to bus into Hollywood and Beverly Hills, where they attract local rich girls - and plenty of...
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A story centered on a directionless 16-year-old living in Marfa, Texas and his relationships with his girlfriend, his neighbor, his teacher, a newly arrived local artist, and a local Border Patrol officer.
Jeremy St. James
Instead of adhering to the norms of their South Central neighborhood, a group of skater boys opt to bus into Hollywood and Beverly Hills, where they attract local rich girls - and plenty of trouble with the police, jealous boyfriends, and nervous parents. Written by
For the first 20 minutes or so of Wassup Rockers, I thought "been there, done that." Meaning that, simply, Larry Clark has done this kind of movie before, better, more wisely and with some extra depth on the subject of stray kids doing their own thing without much parental supervision. But then, finally, something started to take shape: the film is, if about something, a class tale, with the South Central Hispanics roaming around Beverly Hills just looking for a place to skate and getting into various misadventures (some funny, some deadly). And at the same time, even more than Kids, there's a raw quality to the performances, with mixed results. It's like that docu-drama Streetwise from the 80s with a touch of Ferris Bueller and then put to a soundtrack of rip-offs or sound-alikes of the Casualties.
Part of the problem of Wassup Rockers is that it is not too interesting within its aimless structure. Having a film without much of a plot can work fine, they're made all the time in independent quarters in America and especially Europe. But it should amount to something by the end, and by the end of Wassup Rockers there isn't very much of a point except, well, don't go into Beverly Hills for too long if you're Hispanic and looking like a member of the Ramones by way of Tony Hawk. But within this jump-around structure, around some of the random sex scenes and skateboarding and the kind of cool scenes of the kids riding their boards to LA punk rock, Clark does create a fun B-movie. At the least, it's never boring, and if it isn't really groundbreaking or as revelatory or whatever as Kids (and it isn't) it does provide something of a small window into something we haven't seen before, or at least I haven't seen before.
Not all of the performances are below par, an in fact there's a charm and down to earth honesty to a lot of scenes (a scene that made me think a lot of Streetwise is when the kid Chico is talking to the Beverly Hills girl in their underwear in her bedroom - this is stripped down to the point of simple documentary, and it suddenly becomes affecting strangely enough). And, if nothing else, it works as a B movie, a kids-on-the-prowl story that should appeal most to anyone who likes to just roam around when they have nothing to do when they're 14 or 15. It's a minor work that has moments of real power.
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