16th Mar2021

‘Kid 90’ Review (Hulu)

by Phil Wheat

Featuring: Soleil Moon Frye, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Brian Austin Green, David Arquette, Dana Ashbrook, Jonathan Brandis, Stephen Dorff, Balthazar Getty, Cherie Johnson, Heather McComb, Danny Boy O’Connor, Perry Farrell, Pete Bici | Directed by Soleil Moon Frye

As someone who came into his teenage years in 1990, I have not only had a fascination with the films and TV shows I grew up with in the 80s but also the movies and television shows of the 90s. After all, it wasn’t until the 90s that I became hooked on renting movies from the local video shop, recording films and shows off TV and creating a massive archive of personal recordings. Hey… there’s a reason I run this website and that fascination began in the 90s and continues to this day (thank god for digital formats though – can you imagine how big my tape collection would be today?!). So when I saw that one of the stars of the 90s, Soleil Moon Frye, had made a documentary of her time growing up in that era – featuring the stars I’d watched on TV and in movies as a teen – I had to check it out. Thank god then for VPNs and friends with Hulu accounts!

Now you could be forgiven for thinking that a film featuring the video recordings of Hollywood teens could be a light, self-centred, look at a lavish lifestyle. However Frye’s film is anything but that. Instead Kid 90 is a frank, honest look at the trials and tribulations of not only the Hollywood lifestyle but also the pains of youth – especially being a teenager in a job that often asks kids to be and act older than they are. Making children grow up way too fast, and all the problems that come with that.

There’s still an innocence to everything, at first; with a look at the party scene in L.A., Frye’s relationship with her friends, her personal relationship with other performers and even looking at her relationships with drugs and alcohol. It’s an all-encompassing document of a time in the 90s before the internet, before EVERYTHING was documented by paparazzi and gossip sites. But what starts out as an innocent look at the teenage years of Soleil Moon Frye takes a very, VERY, dark turn as the films documents not only Frye’s sexual assault but also the toll Hollywood partying took on Frye and her friends – from heavy drug-taking to overdoses, suicide and the loss of friends… and innocence. It gets particularly bleak when actor Stephen Dorff scarily says it felt like they were losing a friend a week.

Kid 90 then switches focus to Frye’s years in New York City where, surprisingly, Frye found herself becoming friends with the kids of Larry Clark’s infamous Kids and immersing herself in skate and rasta culture – in a total change from the big-money lifestyle of Hollywood. But yet the more things change, the more they stay the same… More friends lost and more heartbreak.

What could have been a puff-piece on the Hollywood teenage lifestyle – or a drawn out plug for the reboot of Frye’s most famous role, Punky Brewster – is instead a deeply emotional look at mental health, grief, finding oneself and, ultimately, what is means to be human… to live your life.

Kid 90 is available on Hulu now.

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