Movie Review - Kaboom
What starts out as a college-age, Sigmund Freud exploration of sexuality explodes into a zany, almost Scooby Doo-ish, Scientology, nuclear holocaust psychothriller. Not since Donnie Darko have I seen something so bizarre, that makes no sense, and has an ending that had me throwing my hands in the air saying, "What was that?"
Writer-director Gregg Araki has made some very strange and provocative movies, but this one, which premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Queer Palm award, takes the cake. His story centers on an 18-year-old college freshman named Smith, played by Thomas Dekker. Smith has a very weird dream, which may or may not be prophetic. All he knows is that it was very vivid and very creepy.
The dream is brushed aside when something more profound hits him. Smith has a crush on his roommate. His roommate is Thor, a tall, tan, muscled, long-haired blonde surfer, played by Chris Zylka. Thor claims to be straight, but Smith has a sneaking suspicion that Thor is gay. Smith can't be sure, so he consults his best friend, Stella, a sardonic, sexy lesbian who ironically always give Smith information straighter than anyone. If anyone watches Josh Charles and Lara Flynn Boyle's characters in Threesome (1994) when talking about Stephen Baldwin's character, you'll feel a striking similarity.
At first, Araki seems to have lost all sense of irony. He plays off a whole ton of gay clichés. Smith is a slightly flamboyant, film student. Thor could be an Abercrombie & Fitch model. He could also be a well-muscled stoner, a mix of Sean Penn's Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Matthew McConaughey's David Wooderson in Dazed and Confused. Except, the standard clichés about Thor's ambiguity roll out.
It doesn't help that Smith drools while Thor wrestles semi-naked with his equally muscled friend Rex, played by Andy Fischer-Price. Yet, distracting Smith from this curiosity and new infatuation is a promiscuous and bubbly blonde named London who he meets in a bathroom, a place where he'll end up meeting a couple of women. Smith teaches her the beauty of watching someone else orgasm. She in turn gets him Rex for his 19th birthday, after teaching Rex how to give oral sex, a scene analogous to that in Eating Out (2004).
Meanwhile, Stella becomes involved with Lorelai, played by Roxane Mesquida, a witch who like Smith practices delayed gratification. Their eventual shared climaxes explode like fireworks like from a Katy Perry video or the ending of Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void. However, Stella and Lorelai's relationship devolves into a bizarro world version of Fatal Attraction (1987).
If all of that isn't weird enough, try Smith getting stalked by men in animal masks, not bunnies like Donnie Darko but bear and tiger faces, who may or may not be kidnapping and murdering people. Exploring the sexual frustrations of this upper middle class, gay white kid doesn't satisfy Araki. The filmmaker needed to throw in a possible, deadly cult on an unnamed college campus. Watching interrupted, intimate acts, whether it's Hunter, played by Jason Olive, on a nude beach or Oliver, played by Brennan Mejia, via email, is only the tip of a L. Ron Hubbard-level, crazed conspiracy.
What Araki achieves is a movie mashup that's scary and strange like Smith dreaming of dumpsters, supernatural and magical like glowing bodies in flagrante delecto, and spiralling finally into comical madcap sweetened with homoeroticism. Again, I throw my hands in the air and say, "What was that?"
Five Stars out of Five.
Not Rated But Recommended for Mature Audiences.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 28 mins.