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Kaboom - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Directing: C+
Acting: B+
Writing: F
Cinematography: B+
Editing: C

To say that Kaboom flies off the rails would be an understatement. And it's too bad, because there's a clear bit of talent that went into the making of it, in spite of its blatant, bordering on shamelessly poor production values. The oddest thing about it is that its terrible production values are rather well shot, so it's generally pretty to look at.

That leads us immediately to the one major redeeming value of this film, which is ultimately pretty shallow: the attractiveness of its young, beautiful actors. Male or female, to say these people are easy on the eyes would be an understatement. Couple that with the fact that the first half or so of the story is semi-promising, and the weight of its ultimate disappointment results in it compounding upon itself. It's sort of like the movie actually implodes.

It truly gets to a point, about halfway through, when you're left with no choice but just to give up. The plot is beyond preposterous, but at least the characters are nice to look at. Then you're just left to ride it out until the end finally comes, thankful that at the very least you have some pretty faces to look at in the meantime.

One can't help but wonder how writer-director Gregg Araki actually managed to get this movie made. He actually proves himself to be a fairly capable director, but I haven't seen a script this terrible in several years. I don't give F grades lightly or at all often, but this script is totally worthless. It seems to go nowhere while at the same time convinced it's going somewhere interesting; it takes promising concepts and then casts them aside in favor of bizarre twists that come out of nowhere for no good reason whatsoever. As a result, both the characters and the actors suffer.

Kaboom wants to be two things at once, but instead starts off as one and ends up as the other, with no discernible means of moving between the two. In the beginning, it's a quasi-fascinating look at the sex lives of modern barely-adult-teen college students, and their openness regarding sexuality -- more specifically, their rejection of labels. The main character, Smith (Thomas Dekker, a genuine talent completely wasted here), is asked if he's gay or straight, and his reply is to say he's "undeclared." He answers the question the same way one might when asked what their major is. Incidentally, in spite of Smith's sexual exploration with new friend London (Juno Temple), he seems pretty damn gay to me.

And so, between London, an older guy who seduces him at a nude beach, and his extremely hot (but apparently a total himbo) roommate Thor (Chris Zylka), Smith spends a fair amount of time exploring all possible sides of his sexuality.

But then, at the same time as Smith's best friend, a lesbian named Stella (Haley Bennett), is dealing with a girlfriend who is apparently a witch with supernatural powers -- yes, seriously -- Smith finds himself wrapped up in an intricate conspiracy that involves a cult, his father he only thought died in a car accident when he was a baby, and "the end of the world as we know it" -- which, naturally, involves nuclear holocaust.

Wait, what? Yes, exactly.

If there were some way to better connect the initial themes of sexuality to this crackpot idea of cult-conspiracy, Kaboom might have worked better. But Araki makes no clear connection between the two whatsoever. It turns from an engaging look at the fluidity of sexuality to a cheap B-movie horror flick that gets more asinine at every turn, until you're seriously considering just walking out of this total mess of a movie. If Araki had any clear vision for this movie, he failed miserably at communicating it.

Araki gets better than decent performances out of his actors, particularly Thomas Dekker as Smith, and cinematographer Sandra Valde-Hansen manages to keep them all looking fantastic. But all of that is rendered meaningless by a script that is jaw-droppingly unpolished and thematically schizophrenic. It seems to have direction and then spontaneously turns down a road with no traffic signs. The actors and the characters are collateral damage, and in the end so is the audience.

Thomas Dekker (center) is in cahoots with Juno Temple (L) and Haley Bennett (R) to make the shittiest film of the year.

Overall: D+
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