God bless that scissor-happy siren Catherine Bach! Maybe she wasn't the FIRST, but she alone is responsible for emblazoning the seductive power of frayed denim cutoffs into our collective conscious. She made the sensuous road to the promised land just that much shorter, that much more tempting. So next time you stroll past a newsstand and pretend not to notice a leggy babe in short-shorts hunched over the hood of a Dodge Charger, remember Ms. Bach and what she done for all mankind. Turns out dirty ol' auteur Larry Clark is also a connoisseur of redneck daywear, because he had former Calvin Klein model Bijou Phillips sleazing around Florida in a pair -- with optional tube top -- for the real-life crime drama Bully (2001, 115 minutes). Clark's leering camera marches the flick boldly into sexploitation by pursuing his cheeky starlet with hiney-level tracking and lingering crotch shots. Truly an ar-teest.
The movie: Nothing seals the bonds of friendship like whoring your best bud out to middle-aged men anxious to share the waves of passion with a brooding surfer boy. That's just the sort of shinning prince Bobby (Nick Stahl) happens to be. While Marty (Brad Renfro) seems locked in a state of arrested development that makes him willing to go along with most anything so long as he can scam a few bucks and borrow Bobby's wheels. They're like Ike and Tina Turner without the soul. But fate hijacks their vicious cycle of abuse when Marty knocks up Lisa the world's most clingy broad (Rachel Miner). To assure herself that their love will be eternal, and to free her beau from tyranny, she hopscotches way past logic to conclude that Bobby must die. Capital idea, eh? Truth is clearly stranger than fiction, as most of all this stuff really happened in sunny Fort Lauderdale. It's a story of restless teens doing naughty things under the noses of clueless parents -- familiar territory for the director of Kids. Urban street life is exchanged for an idealized suburbia, but the major pastimes are still booze, drugs and gawking at themselves in mirrors with no clothes on. That's the crowd where Ms. Phillips fits in as a nasally, high-school mom who ditches her kiddo with her folks most nights so she can go rut like a jungle animal. Oh! And help her friend Lisa kill a guy. Kids phenom Leo Fitzpatrick is all grow'd up and steals the flick as a hitman hired by this gaggle of future felons to help them bid bye-bye to bully Bobby. CineSchlockers will be interested to note that it was during production of this film that Blood Feast 2 producer Jacky Lee Morgan first paid a fan's visit to Gore Godfather Herschell Gordon Lewis. A long-time resident of Fort Lauderdale.
Notables: Four breasts. One corpse. Refer madness. Phone nookie. Hot wax nookie. Boxer boy dance party. Loogie hocking. Gratuitous urination. Gay porn. Lesbian tongue rasslin'. Puking.
Quotables: Bobby shoves Ali's face onto his crotch and crows, "Welcome to the party, bitch!" Mousy Lisa doesn't much care for him herself, "I swear to god I can't wait to stab that mother f@#%er! Slice his throat and bleed him like a pig! I'm gonna slice his guts open and spill his intestines out on the dirt! Beat him in the head with a baseball bat until his f@#%ing eyeballs fall out!"
Time codes: Backseat AND frontseat lovin' (5:50). Marty apes Eminem (26:26). The former Mrs. Macaulay Culkin hatches a murder plot (33:50). Freeze-frame pervert's delight (35:59). Our next generation of criminals (48:25). Passing the baton o' doom (1:41:00). Updates on the convicts (1:52:23).
Audio/Video: Presented in its original widescreen (1.85:1) format. The print is consistent throughout with only the minorest of pixelation during a typically problematic nighttime scene. Dolby Digital 5.1 audio with a bonus track featuring an isolated score.
Extras: About 30 minutes of on-set chatter with Mr. Clark and his carefully selected cast. Listen as Bijou curses like a sailor and Brad drones about his craft as if angling for a guest spot on "Inside the Actors Studio." It can get a little dry up until the kiddos explain how they won their roles. Mug shots of the actual perps. Titillating trailer, plus reels for Clark's Another Day in Paradise and Kids. Static menus without audio. No printed insert or liner notes.
Final thought: A devastating blend of true crime and art-house exploitation that's equally well crafted and acted. Highly Recommended.
G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.