Kids in America

Rated PG-13 2005

The best thing about this high school dramedy, which otherwise suffers from otiose self-importance and derivative writing, is its closing credits, which feature interviews with three real high school students who were expelled for expressing controversial beliefs. Why couldn't the film have been a documentary about them? Instead, we have a scripted narrative about a group of students who, prompted by their film teacher, decide to "Change Da World." Another student has been suspended for promoting safe sex, and they launch a campaign to bring attention to this incursion on their right to free speech. Things get out of hand, and everybody learns his or her lesson, including Principal Weller, a careerist whose repressive regime is, essentially, inexplicable. Kids in America has its heart in the right place, but its head seems to be lost in a swirling maelstrom of teen movies that have come before -- Say Anything . . ., Sixteen Candles, Fast Times at Ridgemont High -- none of which it manages to emulate.


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