As spacey as its title suggests, Gregg Arakis latest youth film is an occult mystery set in the ultimate SoCal college playpen. Kaboom is Scooby Doo with sex, drugs, and tattooed hotties; following on the heels of Arakis relatively commercial stoner farce, Smiley Face (2007), the movie makes you wonder whether Mysterious Skin (2005), his surprisingly serious and emotionally subtle evocation of pedophilia, was basically a one-off. Now 51, the director seems nostalgic for the self-characterized irresponsibility that was his youthful trademark. Kaboom shows him nearly as rambunctious as he was in the early '90s, when he burst upon the indie scene as the leading bad boy of the New Queer Cinema. Like Nowhere (1997), the old-school Araki film Kaboom most resembles, teenage fantasy runs rampant. There is ample reason to assume the movie is a dream of college by ambisexual freshman and would-be cinema-studies major Smith (Thomas Dekker). Smith has a hunky surfer roommate named Thor (Chris Zylka), who sits down on his bed naked and says, Ive never kissed another guy before wait, that is a dream! With its pop colors and compositions including a giant close-up of mac-and-cheese Kaboom is a garish billboard for id unbridled. The film does have an excellent punchline, although even at 86 minutes it feels a bit long mainly because Araki cant help letting his camera linger over his performers. Hard to blame him hes assembled the best-looking cast in town and its largely his gaga fetishization that makes the movie so much fun.
Feb. 17-23, 2011