Friday, March 13, 2009

The Weekly Alternative - Wassup Rockers

I know we've all been waiting for me to start a new recurring column destined to never recur. (The comic one isn't all my fault -- still waiting to get the scanner back up and running.) So stop your clamoring and drink in The Weekly Alternative. Wherein I take a look at the new releases, size up the less than appealing, manufactured time and money waster that's being crammed down your gullet and offer an alternative -- something similar, in the same genre, that you may have missed the first time around and actually worth your time and money.

This week some company has spent far too much money trying to sell me on Miss March. A pathetic looking entry into the Animal House, American Pie milieu that features at least one guy from that show on IFC I can't stand. (My brother, who usually has good taste, likes the show The Whitest Kids U'Know, so maybe it isn't as bad as the two episodes I forced myself to sit through lead me to believe.) The horrible commercials/trailers for this Miss March movie make me cringe and fill me with despair the way only a badly conceived comedy centered on horny idiots can. So what's the alternative?

If there's one autuer of movies featuring guys thinking with their dicks -- or rather, acting naturally, it's Larry Clark. He's the maestro behind Kids, Bully, Ken Park and this week's alternative Wassup Rockers. (He's also the subject of a very cool documentary Great American Rebel which is available on You Tube in its entirety. Quality isn't the best but we're talking about a movie that isn't on DVD being taken from VHS to You Tube so...) When it comes to capturing our youth at their worst, there isn't a better man to have on the job than Larry Clark. With Wassup Rockers he's teamed himself with a group of inner-city LA latino outcasts. They skateboard, play in a punk rock garage (or living room as the case may be) band and wear tight jeans which the local black girls love to tease them about. Like the heroes of any teenage sex comedy, our guys are just looking to hang out, drink some beers and maybe get lucky. They don't care much for school and being the outcasts they are they're constantly being harrassed by the more popular kids which makes their group tighter and more important to their day-to-day survival in South Central LA.

There are a number of things that make Wassup Rockers great fun to watch. One is that it never gets into the negativity of where they are and how fucked up their situation is. While there is that look into the dark side of our character's lives, as there is in any Larry Clark film, the tone is one of celebration and love of life even in the face of the worst that's out there. The kids in this close knit group have no delusions. They're happy if they make it through a school year alive and if one of them doesn't they know that's simply the way things are and their departed friend would want them to continue to find those sweet skate spots and pay their respects by writing a kick-ass rocker rather than go into mourning.

In his previous movies, Lary Clark has had some great scripts from some great screenwriters to work with but this time he takes sole credit for the screenplay and it comes with some benefits and some problems. While the movie may lack some focus, Clark gives his cast the ability to simply be themselves. The film has the feel that Clark simply set the framework and sat back and followed his non-actors as they went about their business. A couple of the kids are a bit stiff and less natural than the others but for the most part they're a wonder to behold and a joy to hang out with.

While Miss March promises hilarious shenanigans following a couple buddies on a road trip to the Playboy Mansion -- why not instead follow a group of buddies from the ghetto to the swimming pools of Beverly Hills as they charm their way into parties and your girlfriend's pants, find a sweet skate spot and rampant racism and live life to the fullest. Wassup Rockers is funny, revealing and full of truth and love for its stars. And for an hour and a half, Larry Clark does make stars out of his punk loving latino friends from South Central and you'll find it's really easy to fall in love with these guys just like Clark did and like the rich white women in the film do.

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