Gregg Araki's heady mix of science fiction and gross-out comedy should find plenty of takers with audiences under 30, however other viewers will have grown out of the film's particular obsessions. Araki's got a certain garish flare to his delivery that those more patient with the content will find appealing and Thomas Dekker offers an engaging performance (though he deserves better material). The film has its admirers and won an unofficial Cannes Film Festival prize: the Queer Palm (perhaps not the best title for this inaugural accolade). Kaboom is perfect for the late night campus circuit and, if IFC positions it for that crowd, it could have a lucrative future with rotation in college communities.
Kaboom's one-trick-pony premise is that a student finds his life turned upside down after he witnesses a gruesome murder. At least that's his story, but since what he saw may have been the result of a bad acid trip it's understandable when his witnessing isn't taken too seriously.
Thomas Dekker invests his character Smith with a wide-eyed sense of perpetual alarm, whether he is ogling his muscle-bound roommate or hanging out with the abrasive Stella (Haley Bennet) or the free-spirited London (Juno Temple). Smith swings all ways and, as is typical of Araki male stereotypes, is wimpy in the face of kick-ass females. The murder Smith saw may (or may not) be tied to the fate of the planet, which escalates the proceedings to an even sillier plane.
Araki manages to keep the brew of black comedy and vigorous sex on the boil in multifarious combinations, all wrapped with barbed one-liners and constant wackiness. It's shot in vibrant colors, boasts outrageous costumes and is accompanied by an eclectic soundtrack featuring everything from The Cocteau Twins to The XX and other indie bands.
After his recent outings (Mysterious Skin and Smiley Face) Araki, who is a contemporary of Gus Van Sant and Todd Haynes, returns to his earlier preoccupations and seems to relish the experience. You have to admire his sense of style and ambition even if the convoluted narrative begins to grate.
Distributor: IFC Films
Cast: Thomas Dekker, Haley Bennett, Chris Zylka, Roxane Mesquida, Juno Temple, Andy Fischer-Price
Director/Screenwriter: Gregg Araki
Producers: Andrea Sperling, Gregg Araki, Sebastien Lemercier
Running time: 86 min
Release date: January 28 ltd.