Coming-of-age stories typically illustrate a significant change in a young person’s perception of life. They are strewn with moments of realization as the character’s understanding of life — what they previously assumed about life — is drastically changed, and they begin to discover that things aren’t necessarily as they appear to be.
In Kaboom, director Gregg Araki uses extreme measures to get this point across. What begins as a simple story about a sexually experimental college freshman turns into a puzzle, where reality seems more unreal than a dream. Smith (Thomas Dekker) comes to realize that there is a second nature to all those around him. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but I will say the mystery surrounding Smith, revealed towards the ending, comes as a surprise — it’s not at all what you think going in.
At times, the film comes off cheesy and ridiculous, and this may cause one to think of it as a bad film, but this is Araki’s intention. What makes Kaboom interesting and entertaining is that it is difficult to pin down. Don’t go in with any expectations; as ridiculous as they may be, the fun comes from all the unpredictable surprises along the way.