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
In Paris, a young American who works as a Michael Jackson lookalike meets Marilyn Monroe, who invites him to her commune in Scotland, where she lives with Charlie Chaplin and her daughter, Shirley Temple.
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
Wassup Rockers is a marginally amusing exercise in the world of delinquents and under-privileged youth, but I am instantly reminded of the director's, Larry Clark, other works such as Bully and Kids, which were far, far superior to this film. The film plays like a tired rehash of previously fresh ideas, and while we understand that Clark has a deep fascination and understanding of the teenage wasteland that currently exists today, we are unsure how much longer he can keep the idea going.
The film focuses on a group of Guatemalan and Salvadoran skaters in Southern Los Angeles, that rebel against conventional society by not conforming to the simple-minded hip-hop style and music their gang-driven neighborhood happily enjoys. The teens are often referred to as "rockers," as they wear skin-tight jeans, listen to heavy metal and punk music, and proudly wear their hair long and thick. We follow them as they wander aimlessly from skate-park to skate-park, looking for excitement and thrills, as well as some much needed escapism. They wind up being fish out of water when they take a trip to the 90210 culture of Beverly Hills, where they meet two lovely young women who allow them to stop by their house "any time." This is the domino to the trigger of catastrophic events that are likely to and will unfold.
A third of the film is devoted to getting to vaguely know these faces and show how they operate in their skating world, the other is devoted to showing how they associate with the upper-class when they hail from "the ghetto," and the remaining third shows them acting under pressure and fear. Tonally, the film is confused, widely uneven, and unable to keep a solid shift through the day's events without gradually throwing in a curveball.
The characters have some recognizable substance to them, but they are sort of cardboard stereotypes, despite the film's efforts to try and lead them away from that common cliché. The film teeters on the edge of these kids opening up, but it quickly becomes rambling, directionless monologues instead of truly insightful pieces. It is also fair to say that all of the teen-actors do an admirable job at working with the script, and many, if not all, of them are first time actors, showcasing truly remarkable talents in central roles.
The film's main goal is to try and put ongoing tensions between class differences and race-relations on the spot. It succeeds in many of its initial goals, and doesn't come off as heavy-handed or overly preachy. Try saying the same about Crash.
Many shots incorporate heavy rock music, with montages and long shots of skateboarding. This is where the film shines as a whole. It is welcoming to see this human appearance, and Clark has shot long instances of events previously, mainly in his film Kids. Honestly, it seems as if Wassup Rockers plays like a watered down, neutered version of that film. I truly admired Kids for its consistency, bravery, and screenplay, which bled poignancy and sadness, but Wassup Rockers can't even come close to approaching the chords that film hit effortlessly. Clark has said a lot about the teenage youth in the past, but he doesn't use this effort to say much of anything provocative.
Starring: Jonathan Velasquez, Francisco Pedrasa, Milton Velasquez, and Yunior Usualdo Panameno. Directed by: Larry Clark.
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