Wassup Rockers

"Bad"

Wassup Rockers Review


It's tempting to imagine director Larry Clark (Kids, Bully) as a stranger crouched in the bushes outside the local high school with his hand pumping underneath his trench coat, but that picture isn't entirely truthful. His bad films, like the notorious Ken Park, merely make it seem that way. An accurate mental image of Larry Clark should also include a jaunty beret atop his head and a distinguished pipe between his lips -- for Clark is a renowned artiste as well as a shrub-lurking deviate. He's the world's leading teenage-flesh auteur!

Clark's latest, Wassup Rockers, retains many of the hallmarks of his previous films -- a loose narrative, a nonprofessional cast, a keen interest in the fringes of contemporary teen culture -- while also experimenting with a more subdued and at times upbeat approach to the film's subject matter. The result is a strangely whimsical, poorly crafted film that leaps from one cinematic style to another without warning or reason, aiming for coming-of-age pathos in one scene and B-movie camp in the next.

The film opens with a lengthy cinema verité-style interview of a 15-year-old Latino from South Central Los Angeles named Jonathan (Jonathan Velasquez). He sits shirtless on his bed and mumbles discursively about sex and his group of friends while the camera caresses his flesh. The interview serves no narrative purpose, and much of what Jonathan says is unintelligible, but it sets the sexually charged tone that pervades Clark's films and gives them their voyeuristic feel.

After the interview, Rockers shifts into a more conventional, if somewhat aimless, narrative mode. Jonathan, it turns out, is the leader of a group of Latino skaters whose love of punk rock and tight, tapered jeans makes them outcasts in their own neighborhood, where hip-hop culture reigns supreme and gang violence is unavoidable. One day Jonathan and his buddies decide to make their way to a favorite skating spot at Beverly Hills High. There they run into two sexy teens, Jade and Nikki, who invite them to hang out at a mansion just up the hill. But before the guys can get on their way, a racist cop stops the crew and tries to ticket them for skating on school property (in Beverly Hills, apparently, skateboarding is a crime). After a tedious "interrogation" scene, the boys make a dash for it and all but one of them manage to escape, skating away with their hair on fire.

The crew then heads up to the mansion to meet the girls. Immediately Jonathan and Kiko (Francisco Pedrasa) head off with Jade and Nikki to make out. However, rather than swapping bodily fluids, Kiko and Nikki instead trade stories about their lives and the different cultures they live in (while in their underwear, with a camera zooming in on their downy flesh, of course).

The boys' blissful situation takes a serious turn when a marauding band of Beverly Hills High brats -- that's right -- crashes the party and attacks Jonathan and Kiko for making out with their girls. A melee ensues, the cops are called, and once again the crew is on the run. The rest of the film is devoted to their efforts to get back to South Central, and it's at this point in the film that Clark seems to give up and say, "Aw, what the hell, let's just throw the kitchen sink in there, too."

As the boys hop fences and dash through backyards, they encounter one cartoonish, clichéd character after another, none of whom in any way represents a real-world person. First, there's the gaggle of fashion-industry types who fetishize the boys as sexual curiosities, then there's the gun-happy superstar who shoots first and asks questions later, and finally there's the vampy, middle-aged actress (Janice Dickinson) who inexplicably administers a bubble bath to Kiko. These wild escapades are actually pretty fun to watch, in a train-wreck sort of way. B-movie shenanigans have their place. Unfortunately that place isn't in a film whose entire first act is firmly rooted in documentary-like realism.

Rockers does hold a few pleasures, though. Chief among them are the performances by Velasquez, Pedrasa, and the rest of the skater crew. Even in the worst, cliché-ridden scenes, these untrained actors effortlessly express their dynamism and vitality. In fact, they're so good that it's hard not to imagine their performances stirring interest in the film. Yet, no matter how likeable an actor or an ensemble may be, a movie is only as good as its story -- and Wassup Rockers is a bad story poorly told.

Wassup with that couch?



Wassup Rockers

Facts and Figures

Run time: 111 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 5th April 2006

Box Office USA: $0.1M

Box Office Worldwide: $634.1 thousand

Distributed by: First Look Pictures

Production compaines: Glass Key, Wildcard Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Fresh: 19 Rotten: 34

IMDB: 5.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Kevin Turen, Henry Winterstern

Starring: Jonathan Velasquez as Jonathan, Francisco Pedrasa as Kico, Milton Velasquez as Milton / Spermball, Usvaldo Panameno as Porky

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.