Kids was the kind of movie that rarely comes along. It went for a taboo topic (the seedy lives of teenagers) and refused to pander to conventions and clichés. A warts-and-all exploration of the time, it struck a chord and remains a controversial experience even today, 20 years later.
The cast and crew recently celebrated that milestone with a special screening and they had a few things to say. For example, these days they view it as a bit of a comedy:
Writer Korine on seeing it again: I forgot how funny it was. I was so shocked when it came out, but I was laughing my as off when I saw it [just now].
Hynes: It is very funny.
Clark: It’s a comedy. [The audience laughs hard at this. Clark does not.]
Director Larry Clark gave some insight on how the film’s documentary style came about:
It started out with a lot of documentary factors in it because I had hung out with skaters for about three years and everything in the film had happened except for Jennie.
I told Harmony I didn’t want to do a documentary. So we had to have a hook. We had to have, like, the maiden tied to the railroad tracks. And I came up with this idea about a girl getting HIV from one sexual experience. And that’s what tied it together and made it a feature rather than a documentary.
Writer Harmony Korine expanded on the then-controversial AIDS angle of the film:
I remember always wanting it to be like the real world pushed into something hyper, more like a movie. The AIDS thing was almost like Jaws, like the device that propelled. We didn’t know anything about the disease except that we really didn’t want to get it. But what Larry and I were really excited about was the ambience. It was the tone and the feel and the realness of the moment. We knew it was special.
Clark also noted the film’s major cultural impact:
Schools started giving condoms out in school that year. And the Catholic church was up in arms about it. So Planned Parenthood was giving condoms away to everybody. And in the parks all the kids had strings of condoms around their necks. It was in the news, and that’s kind of where the idea for the plot point to hang everything onto came from.
The article is a treasure trove of insight into Kids, so be sure to give it a look.
Last Updated: July 1, 2015