Fun with sex and death among Cali teens: Review of “Wassup Rockers”

wassup rockers

Brought to you by the maker of “Kids”, Larry Clark, are seven Latino teenagers in a documentary-like take of what would happen if they went from South Central to Beverly Hills, in his newest movie “Wassup Rockers”.

These teens “from the ghetto” chose the Ramones over 50 Cent, tight jeans over huge pants, and skateboards over guns. To an energy filled soundtrack, the camera follows their lives for 24 hours as they are hassled by absolutely everyone, shot at, chased by dogs and police and constantly seduced. The 15-year old Jonathan has his shirt off more often than not, and one gets the sense that his barely pubescent body is being sold more than his story.

Much like Telly, in “Kids”, Jonathan can get any girl and girls just can’t keep their hands off him. There is no tragedy here though, only hilarity of bad porn every time a female enters the frame. The amateur and underage actress licks her lips and bats her eye lashes while hurriedly getting out of her clothes and doing her best imitation of “talking dirty”. No actual nudity though, only teenagers in their underwear.

With a non-stop barrage of close ups a quick montage introduces each boy. Every nipple hair is seen, every tooth, every wrinkly in every pair of lips. School is shown only as huge groups of kids who dress nothing like them but don’t seem particularly antagonistic. A few girls are introduced.

A large part of the movie is spent showing the boys skate. There is a comical home-video quality to it and they often fall down making the audience suck in air with empathy. It is generally fun just to watch these kids having fun even though sometimes they seem a bit self-conscious.

Most of the dialogue has to do with sex as they share their anecdotes of innocence lost. They are not particularly nostalgic, only recounts of experiences had. The only large speaking parts are given to Jonathan as he describes all his friends at the start of the film while sitting on his bed in his boxers and constantly scratching, and also to Kico while he explains to a horny Beverly Hills girl what it’s like “in the ghetto.”

There is no strong dialogue in this piece, and whatever issues are involved (such as death, racism, suicidal despair, alcoholism, underage sexuality) are not in any way tackled, only presented as facts. A picture which may have been grim, has a sitcom feel to it: the ghetto kids, the rich chicks of Beverly Hills, and the sex that binds them.

The aspects of the film that should have been tragic weren’t; all of it was just there, but no feeling was attached to it. Consequences were the deal of the next 24 hours, something the audience is not privy to. The naiveté of the boys who seem to simply play themselves is what makes the movie so brilliant.

The major part of the plot is the sequence with the boys climbing walls into yard after yard of Beverly Hills excess. If you have seen “The Warriors”, you will notice a certain similarity, except here it is unspeakably funny. I was particularly pleased with Janice Dickinson’s part.

“Wassup Rockers” is a voyeuristic experience, and although it involves serious issues, they are mostly glossed over and so the film is a lot more lighthearted than the apocalyptic “Kids.” The greatest praise this movie receives from me is for the fact that it drew me in like nothing else I have seen on the screen in a long time. I left the movie theater strangely charged with these young, exciting lives, feeling like a satisfied vampire.

Copyright © 2007 Eat The Lemons

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