With the advent of technology and the destruction of the concept of celebrity, there are many movies like “Kid 90” coming to theaters and VOD. It’s an important trend of movies that discuss the pitfalls, perils, and hazards of being a child movie or TV star in any decade. Soleil Moon Frye allows a somewhat unfiltered look in to her not so happy childhood that involved a lot of pressure, a business that seemingly abandoned her, and being sexualized at the age of thirteen.
Soleil Moon Frye was one of the premiere television stars of the eighties who struggled to find a career that continued after “Punky Brewster.” While growing up, Frye chronicled every moment of her life through home video and what we’re witness to is something less glamorous than what we would expect. “Kid 90” has an important message to discuss with its audience about the horrors of being a child star in Hollywood. For a movie barely clocking in at eighty minutes, Frye has the opportunity to discuss how much Hollywood tends to abuse, use, and throw away actors.
There’s something to be said about what effects that can have on individuals in film and television seeking stability. But often times the message in “Kid 90” is muddled down by Frye’s eagerness to deliver a documentary that’s much more a saccharine autobiography in the end. While Frye does have a fascinating story to tell, she props “Kid 90” up somewhat like an analysis of how fickle and demanding Hollywood can be for children. She even turns to former child stars and long time friends like Brian Austin Green and Stephen Dorff. They all of have some keen insight to offer about their lives as people and celebrities, and how they vastly differed. Frye even spotlights many of her former friends, all of whom sadly suffered from suicide such as Jonathan Brandis.
But when she does focus on the varying friends, she discusses regret on how she wishes she’d listened to them, rather than reflect on the why they tragically took their own lives. “Kid 90” sadly dodges a lot of the discussion about Hollywood in the second half focusing more about how she re-invented herself and managed to garner stability. Once it stops focusing on the destructiveness that is Hollywood, “Kid 90” becomes syrupy sweet, dull and exploitative in points. So none of the stars featured were livid about their inclusion? She cleared the footage with everyone featured in the film? Kudos to Frye for re-claiming her life, but the message and concept behind “Kid 90” is ultimately confused, muddled and tedious. I wish Frye would have chosen a path and stuck with it, offering a more cohesive, coherent, less opportunistic movie.
Streaming Exclusively on Hulu.