Kaboom / Gregg Araki / 2011 / onestar

Active Ingredients: Strong cast; Colorful palette
Side Effects: Irritating characters; Bad comedy; Boring, inconsequential plot

A global conspiracy, a religious cult, something about the end of the world and lots of sex. While these elements may sound like the makings of a good film, director Gregg Araki has instead sabotaged this enticing blend with characters that aren’t believable, relateable, likeable, or, what’s worse, interesting. Despite the undertones of mystery, Kaboom is basically a college sex comedy, featuring a cast of bratty, cheeky teens willing to go to bed with members of either sex. They’re sexual liberated, and we know this because they quip and make puns about being sexual liberated. (“Are you gay?” “I’m more… undeclared.”)

The main problem with the film (besides it being painfully unfunny), is that the characters and their interactions are defined by singular, simplistic quirks: one’s a pothead; one’s a bronzed beach god; one’s sarcastic, etc. Without any connection to the players, the wacky curveballs that the plot lobs at the audience are totally ineffectual. Araki has gained serious indie cred with edgy films like Mysterious Skin, but I found Kaboom to be somehow simultaneously button-pushing and utterly bland. It’s a tone deaf accumulation of annoying characters thrust into preposterous and inane situations.