Kids engendered a firestorm of controversy so enormous that, even two decades after its debut, it’s still infamous. An unsparing (if a bit sensationalized) look at the youth of 1990s America, Kids is all about hedonism, substance abuse, and unsupervised debauchery among children whose greatest concerns should be homework and cartoons.
From the very beginning, it is unrelentingly cynical. We open on Telly, a snot-nosed teen boy whose biggest interest is deflowering virginal girls. His first act, in fact, is to do just that with an unnamed 12-year-old. Telly then meets up with best friend Casper, toting a brown-bagged bottle of booze, and they roundly abuse the women and girls they coerce into unsafe sex. It’s a brutal look at vulnerable children being twisted into acts they can’t comprehend the magnitude of, the sowing of seeds they’ll be reaping for years. As an adult, you know this — and perhaps have foreknowledge of the movie’s lurid reputation. But the kids are just that, and think all they’re doing is having fun. Only you, in the audience, understand how dearly they’ll pay for even the first things they do.