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Kingston High, The
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by Scott Weinberg

"Low-budget urban comedy with heart."
4 stars

If you think all modern teen flicks are vapid, mindless and amateurish collections of lowbrow pandering, simplistic sex gags and sophomoric stupidity, you're probably right. Since we all know how much fun it is to see semen ingested 5 different ways, teen movies just keep getting stupider. But sometimes it's nice to see a movie where teenagers simply sit around and talk.

If you listen carefully throughout Stephen Townsend's film The Kingston High, you'll hear something generally absent from movies that deal with adolescents: honest dialogue. Although the movie's low-budget inception is readily apparent throughout, The Kingston High offers enough truth, humor and charm to warrant a look.

Seemingly inspired by such varied sources as Friday, After Hours, Clerks and Can't Hardly Wait, The Kingston High centers around three buddies on the last night of their high school lives. Sketch, Random and History have been pals for years. Never the biggest men on campus, the trio spend their prom night hopping from party to party while chasing girls, avoiding bullies, and sharing a handful of heart-to-heart talks.

Sketch has a massive crush on Trina, a smart young woman who is dating an insolent jerk. Random seems like a goofy comic relief character, but he has a few deeper layers underneath his weed-loving exterior. History is a well-spoken and devoted friend, even if he's constantly having to defend himself as the white friend of two black guys. (One of the movie's finest scenes comes when History defends his right to "culturize" himself however he pleases.)

The cast of young actors is surprisingly strong across the board, with the standouts being Nicole Pulliam (The Horrible Dr. Bones) as Trina and Chason Bridgman (who eerily resembles a young Ray Liotta) as History. Jeremie Gladman occasionally falters in the lead role, but he brings some real tenderness to the film's more emotional scenes.

While much of The Kingston High deals with sex-talk, pot smoking and general adolescent angst, there are more than a few moments that seem plucked directly from screenwriter Townsend's memory banks. The Kingston High is clearly a very personal and heartfelt movie, one made to share some feelings as opposed to sell some soundtracks.

If you're the kind of moviegoer who will gladly look past a film's low-budget/rookie filmmaker roots to see the quality underneath, The Kingston High is worth a look. Rare is the 'urban comedy' that even attempts the insight and honesty of this disarming indie. Have a look:

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originally posted: 04/12/02 15:00:55
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User Comments

12/29/03 gman A+ for heart and effort to this young film maker 3 stars
4/30/02 Kevin Williams "An entertaining urban comedy full of babes" 5 stars
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  02-Nov-2001 (R)



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