The 'Kids' Aren't Alright

Friday, October 21, 2005

Those tapped into the gossip-sphere know that "Kids in America" features a girl-on-girl kiss between famous-for-being-famous Nicole Richie (in her feature film debut) and Caitlin Wachs, who recently emerged on the scene as Geena Davis's conservative daughter on the new television drama "Commander in Chief."

And, yes, they kiss -- as part of a high school protest over the suspension of a gay student for kissing his boyfriend in the hall. But there isn't much to it, just as there isn't much to Richie's role as a cheerleader who mainly rolls her eyes and flips her hair. Basically, Richie's a blip in this comedy about a group of disparate high school students who band together to protest their tyrannical, free-speech-opposing principal, Ms. Weller (played by Julie Bowen, formerly of television's "Ed").

Short on real teenage angst and emotion, the film is long on caricatures, including a gay student who likes to play the diva and can't climb the rope in gym class and a black student who wears an Afro and routinely invokes Malcolm X. Leading the pack is the brooding teenage stud Holden (played by "Everwood's" Gregory Smith), who organizes a schoolwide rebellion after finding himself expelled for running afoul of Ms. Weller.

Director Josh Stolberg gets an amusing set of cameo appearances out of the likes of Elizabeth Perkins, Adam Arkin and Rosanna Arquette, and any teenager who has felt put-upon by an overbearing school administrator will appreciate the outcome. But the best moments in the film come from another kissing scene -- a mid-movie sequence in which Holden and his girlfriend re-create great screen kisses of the past, drawing on such classic teen films as "Say Anything" and "Sixteen Candles."

-- Jennifer Frey

© 2005 The Washington Post Company