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

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

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.