I advise you to be under the influence of something fun if you elect to see Gregg Araki’s frisky, silly, candy-colored mess Kaboom. Just give your brain a holiday, enjoy the inane goings-on and the pretty pictures of hot young bodies, and put away any typical expectations of a satisfying movie experience. You could end up having a blast. (Pun intended.)
Like many Araki films (with the exception of Mysterious Skin, a quality anomaly in his campy canon and one of 2005’s best films), Kaboom is absurd, bargain-basement, stilted, stylistically cuckoo, genre- and gender-bending, kinda bad, and undeniably entertaining. And, of course, gay, in many senses of the word.
The lead character, Smith (Thomas Dekker), needs only one name because he is that special. He puts many moments and much energy into reacting to things, because everything is about him and he clearly has all the time in the world. (But does the world have much time left? Oooh.)
He also spends a lot of time hanging out with his cute lesbian pal Stella (Haley Bennett) and fantasizing about his dumb, hunky, well-endowed roommate, Thor (Chris Zylka). The plot gets moving at a party where Smith accidentally eats a drug-laced cookie and begins an affair/friendship with a refreshingly blunt girl named London (the fab Juno Temple). Eventually he also starts digging a cute and soft-spoken classmate named Oliver (Brennan Mejia), and a buff beachy type (Jason Oliver). Smith does not care for tired labels like “gay” or “bisexual” or even “pansexual”. He doesn’t like to just say “I like it with guys and with girls” either. “It’s more complicated than that,” he says. Huh? London, sensible girl that she is, finds this kinda dumb and so do I.
Speaking of dumb, who receives a subject-line-free email from an unknown sender and immediately opens the dubious file attached? Our hero Smith. I hurt myself rolling my eyes when that happened.
Plus, the actors’ median body-fat percentage is estimated around 3%, which is odd because their college cafeteria only seems to offer the carbiest of foods.
In the background of all the eating and shag-nanigans, some cartoonishly ominous shit is going down: Smith is disturbed to learn that a mysterious redhead who barfed on him at the aforementioned party has suddenly turned up decapitated, Stella discovers that her girlfriend Lorelei (Roxane Mesquida) is some kind of evil wiccan-demon bitch, and a few characters are plagued by visions of campus marauders wearing animal masks and black Snuggies. Oh, and a townie stoner known as “The Messiah” (James Duval, perhaps updating his character from Araki’s Doom Generation) delivers a note to Smith which reads “You are the chosen son.” The masks eventually come off, we’re supposed to be surprised, and, well, pass a Scooby snack. To quote one of the characters, it’s all “nuttier than squirrel shit”.
A soundtrack featuring Interpol and Jesus & Mary Chain and a score written by the Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie gets a bit lost in the irritatingly over-saturated fray. And about 80 minutes in, Araki realizes the movie is getting too long, or maybe he just gets bored, and everything unravels in a fast, furious, utterly ridiculous few minutes. Is everything that happened after the drugged cookie a dream? Dunno, but I hated it. And somehow enjoyed it.