A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
We write our own histories and memory is subjective, yet "the true art of memory is the art of attention." Sometimes confronting the past can unlock new emotions, for good or bad. Child actors are often treated like adults, and this can be psychologically damaging. People can survive problems of drug and alcohol abuse and go on to have productive lives. It's important to be attentive to friends reaching out for help.
Positive Role Models
Soleil Moon Frey is recalled by her friends as generous and loving. Her single mother's home was a welcoming place for all of her friends. Her family provided her with a happy and "normal" childhood despite her fame as a child actor. She shares videos from 20 years ago that don't always reflect well on her or her friends. She says she regrets not recognizing calls for help from friends who went on to commit suicide. Friends talk about the past and finding meaning in life beyond their celebrity. One says he won't let his kids work in the entertainment industry like he did because it's not a healthy place for children.
Violence & Scariness
A handful of Moon Frye's young friends committed suicide or were lost to drugs or violence. Some were grappling with childhood trauma, others with drug or alcohol problems, others with problems we don't know about. One friend is said to have crashed her car then shot herself. Headlines mention how others committed suicide, including by hanging. Teens hang out of fast-moving cars or get into cars after partying. Moon Frye reads from a journal entry that describes a male friend raping her. She alludes to another evening she couldn't remember that sounds like she was drugged. Images on television show '90s Los Angeles-area events like race riots, fires, earthquakes, and the OJ Simpson trial. She undergoes a major breast reduction surgery, and we see her in pain and with some bruising after. Scenes from films she made in her teens include some graphic horror clips, but these move so quickly it's not always easy to tell what's happening.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
We see people hugging and kissing in videos. Teens talk about sex, losing their virginity, having crushes, and kissing. Moon Frye speaks publicly on a talk show about waiting to have sex, "getting tested" with your partner, and being okay with remaining a virgin. She talks about developing large breasts quite young and going from being treated as a child actor to being treated as an adult, forcing her to "grow up too fast." She was only considered for "t-ts and ass roles" for a while, and people called her "Punky Boobster" in reference to her breakout Punky Brewster role. A man strips down to a thong; Moon Frye jiggles her breasts for the camera; a man pulls his pants down and shows his bare bottom. There's video footage of a woman's pregnant belly and a baby being born.
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Many uses of "f--k"; also, “s--t," "d--k," "t-ts," "ass," "hell," "bitch," "boobs." The middle finger.
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Products & Purchases
The stars of this film are celebrities who reference past work they've done in television, music, and film. Most enjoyed early fame and all its trappings, though wealth isn't a formal subject of the film, and Moon Frye lived in her single mother's relatively modest home even after she became famous. Brands seen or mentioned in a memorable way include SeaWorld, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Lollapalooza, Cottontail Ranch, Adidas, Sharp Camcorder.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens are seen in video footage smoking cigarettes, cigars, joints, and bongs, drinking alcohol, passing out, throwing up, and tripping on mushrooms. These actions are mostly portrayed in the past as part of an exciting young life of parties and friends. Moon Frye spoke publicly during this time about staying off drugs. As adults, some of the same people talk about struggling with serious drug problems in or after that era, sometimes to the point of addiction or life-threatening consumption, and having to overcome tendencies to live wildly and to extremes. They mention friends who died from drug use. They reference "40s and blunts," acid, cocaine, crack, and heroin.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Kid 90 is a documentary based on home video footage of teen celebrities from the 1990s that tackles a lot of mature themes and involves many of the same people as adults reflecting on the past. They talk about their friendships and memories, but also their regrets and problems they've had to overcome as adults. The video footage, captured with a camcorder by Punky Brewster star Soleil Moon Frye during her teen years and young adulthood, shows teenagers engaging in risky behavior. This includes significant drinking and drug use, filmed in party scenes and one sequence of tripping out on mushrooms in the desert. There's vomiting and people passing out as well as reference to "40s and blunts," acid, cocaine, crack, and heroin. Footage also includes scenes of teens hanging out of fast-moving cars or getting into cars after partying. Moon Frye reads from a journal entry describing a rape, and another that sounds like she had been slipped a date drug. Several of her friends from that era committed suicide, by gunshot, hanging or otherwise. There's talk of crushes, kissing, losing virginity, relationships, and having sex, and there's footage of boys and girls hugging and kissing. Moon Frye recalls her early breast development that negatively affected her career and how she was treated by men and led her to have breast reduction surgery. Language includes many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "t-ts," "ass," "hell," "bitch," and "boobs." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Fans of '90s-era celebrities as well as the classic family show Punky Brewster will find this behind-the-scenes walk down memory lane intriguing. But they may be surprised by the downbeat and sincere tone of this personal history. The home videos that director-star Soleil Moon Frye pieces together in Kid 90 provide completely original and private footage of a range of stars from the 1990s, some of whom are no longer alive. Current-day interviews with Moon Frye and others punctuate the videos, voicemail recordings, and excerpts from old diaries, allowing the protagonists to reflect on the events of the past but also on how they remembered them and how they feel about them now. Moon Frye notes that reviewing the footage for the first time in 20 years in order to make this movie was like a second "coming of age" for her. As a wildly famous child actor, Moon Frye says that carrying a camera around at all times in her teen years was a way of taking control. Others also talk about their own reckonings with childhood fame, and, curiously in a retrospective made possible only because someone was constantly filming, there's commentary about how much less scrutiny celebrity teens of the '90s were under in the pre-internet age.
The most striking aspect is the seemingly self destructive behavior of the then-teens, and the near absence of adults in the footage. Even as some of them were speaking out publicly about eschewing drugs and alcohol, they were consuming both heavily in private. Now adults, stars like actor David Arquette and rapper Danny Boy O'Connor talk frankly about barely surviving past drug abuse and hard living. Moon Frye confronts her own role in overlooking friends' serious problems, and the film is dedicated to a handful of young people who committed suicide before the '90s even ended. Others, like Leonardo DiCaprio (whose production house backed this documentary), went onto much bigger careers. We'll never know what footage we aren't seeing here, or information that hasn't been revealed (like the name of the person Moon Frye says raped her at 17) because, like any memoir, this is a personal take on history; it's just one that involves a lot of other well-known people, and it's interesting at the end to watch interviewees reacting to footage of their younger selves. For viewers of a certain age, this film may also offer insight into the act of remembering, and the pain and growth that can come with looking back.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.