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Published: Friday, 10/21/2005

Movie review: Kids in America **

BY CHRISTOPHER BORRELLI
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The cast of Kids in America includes, from left, Emy Coligado, Stephanie Sherrin, Alex Anfanger,
Caitlin Wachs, Crystal Celeste Grant, Chris Morris, and Gregory Smith.
The cast of Kids in America includes, from left, Emy Coligado, Stephanie Sherrin, Alex Anfanger, Caitlin Wachs, Crystal Celeste Grant, Chris Morris, and Gregory Smith.
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If pop culture is as fleeting as we think if Nicole Richie is to Burt Ward what Paris Hilton is to Adam West your children, and your children s children, will someday stumble on a copy of Kids in America, which opens in Toledo today, and react the way a 50 Cent fan would react to Donovan: They will cringe, crack up at the naivete, mock the sincerity.

Good for them.

Kids in America wants you to Change Da World. It is a wan, independently-produced call-to-arms for high school stereotypes everywhere suffering under rigid political times. There is, for instance, the gay kid (and his relative, the gay theater teacher). The hippie chick (with a mom who protested Vietnam). The dumb gym teacher. The shallow cheerleader (played, in fact, by Nicole Richie).

The aspiring earnest film student (taking time off from Dawson s creek). And the fiery black revolutionary (and her relative, the fiery, former black revolutionary reduced to teaching social-studies courses).

Inspired by many real-world examples of humorless school districts on autopilot that stamp out creativity in the name of order and appropriateness, Kids in America is the kind of well-meaning teen flick no one likes to dump on: it s not a horror movie or sex comedy but social satire. It asks teens to think for themselves. Except it asks this using a menagerie no teenager alive could ever relate to, and it trivializes opportunistic school officials into easy (and easily dispatched) ideological bull s eyes.

Kids in America, basically, does not speak elegantly for free speech, but does do one thing right: it recalls, sometimes too fondly for its own good, the 80s Golden Age of Teen Movies, with spot-on tributes to Sixteen Candles and Say Anything. The filmmakers (no one you know) nail those homages so thoroughly, and surround themselves with such an impressive supporting cast of C-listers (Rosanna Arquette, Elizabeth Perkins, George Wendt, Adam Arkin), Kids in America is less interesting for its message than for its ability to call in showbiz favors.

Contact Christopher Borrelli at: cborrelli@theblade.com or 419-724-6117.



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