When I sat down to watch Kaboom I wasn’t intending to review it, I just thought I deserved a night off. But as the movie went on, I found myself itching to jot down my thoughts so I could share them with an audience. This need became so great that I ended up using my phone as a notepad, and the last thought I typed down sums up how this review will go – ‘It’s just bad’.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of Kaboom is that it all starts off so well (or at least alright) with young student Smith (Thomas Dekker) experiencing the ‘student life’ of parties, pills and sex. Since Smith is gay, but is seen having more sex with girls, it seems that Araki is trying to show the fluidity of sexuality, nothing that hasn’t been done before. In fact everyone seems to be jumping into bed with everyone. Although the amount of sex is over the top, and the excuses to remove clothes are more poorly veiled than in Twilight, it is what we have come to expect from these coming out/coming of age stories. So although the plot was predictable, it did not irritate, merely bore.
However, it appears Araki saw this coming and decided that in the last 20 minutes the film would lose the plot and all hell would break loose. Suddenly, almost out of nowhere, the film is full of secret societies, paranormal powers, nuclear arms and, SPOILER ALERT: the end of the world. This last part makes the whole film feel disjointed, like a GCSE film project that tried to mimic the absurdity of Donnie Darko. But where Donnie Darko had hints of strangeness from the very beginning, Kaboom threw most of it in at the end. To give it its due the plot is no longer predictable, but that is only because it becomes so obscure you are left wondering what happened.
Dialogue-wise, the entire film is an out of proportion melodrama, with over the top language and awkward rapport between the actors. The explicit sexual conversations (which is all these teens ever talk about) feels as if it comes straight from the Sex and the City guide to meal conversation. On top of that, to show that the writers are on trend the script is full of modern pop-culture references that are inorganically inserted into conversation. Saying all this, I will admit there some great lines delivered by the female cast. They range from ‘I need to pee like a banshee’ to ‘It’s a vagina, not a plate of spaghetti’ and even ‘You meet some guy on a nude beach and after five minutes you’re downloading his hard drive in the back of a van. You’re a slut.’ – which has to be the best line in the film.
Overall it is disappointing that Araki who released Mysterious Skin, which dealt honestly with the dark issues of child molestation, has decided to direct something this shallow. I may be wrong, Kaboom may gather a cult following like other ‘great before their time’ classics, when fans see what critics missed. I will admit I heard people leaving the cinema raving about how ‘truly amazing’ it was. However, for me the whole thing was just rubbish.