Kid 90: Review
Kid 90 Synopsis: As a teenager in the ’90s, Punky Brewster star Soleil Moon Frye carried a video camera everywhere she went. She documented hundreds of hours of footage and then locked it away for over 20 years…until now.
Intimately exploring the coming-of-age experience for famed child stars, Soleil Moon Frye’s new documentary Kid 90 takes an in-depth look at the group’s growing pains through the lens of restored archive footage. While Frye’s film doesn’t develop the most substantive thesis, her relics from a bygone era effectively speak towards the media’s maligned magnification of personal struggles.
Splicing recovered footage with reflections from a few former stars (David Arquette, Stephen Dorff, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and Frye among others), Kid 90 presents a potent form for thoughtful discourse. Frye’s imperfect recordings are a spell-binding inclusion, providing an inside-baseball perspective from the grainy viewpoint of personal cameras. These revealing frames speak volumes about the child-star experience, often capturing the meteoric highs and deflating lows during the formative adolescent years (there’s an infectious allure to the footage’s makeshift visuals, transporting viewers through its prism of ’90s culture).
Frye deserves praise for her ability to engage with the topic’s deeper connotations. The actress-turned-filmmaker analyzes her personal journey from an enlightened perspective, deconstructing the ways her adolescent mind couldn’t construed fame’s lurking dangers. Formative years are challenging enough, but under the eye of media frenzy, the intensified growing pains become reflexive of grander dynamics.
Kid 90 delves into the media’s troubling over-sexualization of Frye’s developing years, using her struggles to articulate the neglected mental tolls facing her and other stars of her era. It’s often heartbreaking to witness the byproduct of the stars’ commodified personas. Frye’s film works as an able depiction of these dynamics while providing an empathetic tribute to the forgotten souls lost along the way (the number of deaths is heartbreaking and truly eye-opening to witness).
I support Frye for her well-intended efforts, but her filmmaking approach leaves some room for refinement. The meshing of footage with perspective interviews isn’t as effective as it could be, with several of the interviews spelling out points that the archives relay with more tact and impact. I also don’t think Frye builds her intriguing conceits enough. The truncated 72-minute runtime ultimately proves too slight to create a full-fledged look at her subjects.
Kid 90 shines where it counts though, with Soleil Moon Frye crafting an impassioned look in an overlooked cultural facet.
Kid 90 is available now on Hulu