Cannes Critical Consensus: ‘Kaboom’

Share via

This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

It most likely is not for your mother.

It might not be your father’s cup of tea, either.

But there are critics at the Cannes Film Festival--a few, at least--who puzzled over Greg Araki’s ‘Kaboom’... and didn’t know exactly what to say. A writer-director who has been far more popular with some reviewers than mainstream (and even many art house) moviegoers, Araki (‘Mysterious Skin,’ ‘Nowhere,’ ‘The Living End’) brought his new movie to Cannes and was welcomed with mixed notices following its Sunday premiere.

‘Kaboom’ seems to have a little bit of everything: sexuality, a cult, kidnapping, science fiction and sexuality. After all, it’s an Araki movie.


Here’s what the first wave of critics had to say:

Joe Utichi, Cinematical:‘Araki draws humour from the most unlikely places throughout. When you think you see a punch line a mile away it ends up coming from somewhere else. You’re never sure you can trust what you’re seeing, nor the characters themselves, and when you start to figure it all out it throws a curveball. All the more jarring when you abandon any notion that it might have a familiar ending only for it to surprise you once again.’

Leslie Felperin, Variety:‘A campus comedy romp in which polysexual, zonked-out kids play sexual mix-and-match before discovering a plot to destroy the world, pic revisits the nihilistic hedonism of Araki’s mid-’90s films, but this time around with a welcome dose of stylistic restraint, drier wit and -- dare it be said of material featuring auto-fellatio and someone being stabbed in the head -- maturity. Still, outre ‘Kaboom’ won’t ignite far beyond fest and niche distribution circuits.’

Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter:‘This is mostly a sophomoric exercise in black comedy, supernatural excess and apocalyptic silliness mixed in with straight/gay/bi soft-core porn. All that’s truly strange here though is that Araki gets so few jolts or laughs from this hodge-podge of genres. Looks like ‘Kaboom’ will play to Araki’s fans without significantly expanding his base.’

Anthony Kaufman, The Independent Eye: ‘So what’s it all about? Araki drops some hints: the Kinsey Scale that suggests sexual definitions are loose; absent fathers; beautiful young bodies having sex; the curious way snacks are let loose from vending machines; the irony of collapsed grand narratives. For all of ‘Kaboom’s’ silliness, it never transcends it. Sure, some of it’s fun, and the way all the plotlines converge in a ludicrous way suggests knowing parody as opposed to contrivance. But there’s something anachronistic, even irreverent, about the film’s end-results.’

Peter Willis, Obsessed With Film:‘’Kaboom’ is the most outrageously ridiculous thing you are likely to see (probably on DVD, rather than in the cinema)… The plot is beyond description and you’ll not be sure whether to laugh with or at the movie – but I promise, you’ll love it. If you are looking for a review of the movie then look elsewhere, as I couldn’t possibly begin to piece together this chaotic piece of cinema.’

--John Horn