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  • Nate Adams

Review: 'kid 90' captures remarkable snapshot in history and the cost of young stardom

Courtesy of Hulu


Best known for playing the titular role in “Punky Brewster,” Soleil Moon Fyre can now add director to her list of accomplishments. Her debut feature “kid 90” is an exploration of an era defined by rising stars, pop culture, and drugs. Audiences who recently plugged into “Framing Brittany Spears” might get a sense of whiplash watching Fyre’s own recollection of the nineties, and though “kid 90” offers but a brief glimpse of this history, what is shown is nothing short of extraordinary. The 72-minute documentary – pieced with archival footage that Fyre captured with handheld camcorders over the years – doesn’t offer a deep dive, but it features plenty of talking heads who grew up in the spotlight.

Chef among them is Fyre who made “kid 90” to cope with the trauma of her abnormal childhood. Most of us didn’t experience our faces on magazine covers, constant security protection and paparazzi. Watching Fyre unspool never-before-seen diaries, voicemails, and candid footage before the likes of Tik Tok, Snapchat, and Instagram existed is both nostalgic and heartbreaking. “kid 90” reminds us these are kids that were treated like adults and some were idolized as sex symbols, especially Fyre who underwent breast reduction surgery after an onslaught of rude and suggestive comments pushed her to the edge.

“kid 90” is an interesting look at how we perceive the past and our relationships. At the time, Fyre was trying to create a visual time capsule (nowadays we have Snapchat and Facebook memories) but what she assumed was harmless nights binge drinking and cultivating friendships feels much different 30-years later. Money and fame don’t equate too much when searching for purpose and people who love and cherish you. Interviews with prominent actors: David Arquette, Stephen Dorff, Brian Austin Green, and Balthazar Getty offer commentary of the era and rationale for not allowing their own kids to get swallowed by the predatorial Hollywood landscape.

Anyone who follows pop-culture and the tabloids won’t be surprised at the revelations disclosed in “kid 90” but watching footage of the late Jonathan Brandis reminds us how fragile these teens were. That Fyre – who was dating Brandis at the time of his suicide – remains as vulnerable as she does throughout her documentary gives “kid 90” a strong emotional core. It’s not just Brandis she reckons with either, Fyre divulges personal, intimate entries about getting raped and her relationship with Charlie Sheen while holding back tears. Despite the short 72-minute window keeping “kid 90” from offering a wider lens of that rambunctious time (and trimming down the raw footage) the bravery Fyre displays in recontextualizing a depressing time of her life is a remarkable feat that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Grade: B+

kid 90 debuts on HULU Friday, March 12th

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