Kick 'n Rush (June 11/05)
Kick 'n Rush is being marketed as a cross between American Pie and Bend It Like Beckham, despite the fact that it has little in common with either of those films. On the surface, though, it's easy enough to see why the comparison's been made; the story does feature some soccer playing, while there are a few instances of teenagers exploring their sexuality (that the film opens with the central character pleasuring himself probably explains the Pie reference). But Kick 'n Rush is a smart, unexpectedly involving coming-of-age film that is more effective than the majority of similar fare emerging from Hollywood.
The story revolves around Jakob (Jacob Krarup), Bo (Cyron Bjørn Melville) and Mikkel (Esben Smed Jensen) - three friends who spend their days lusting over unattainable women and engaging in a variety of illegal activities (ie they'll rent a movie and then break into a house to watch it). After he's assigned to work with Mathilde (Marie Bach Hansen) on a school project, Jakob finds himself falling for the girl - despite the fact that Mikkel has been secretly lusting after her for years.
Initially, with its emphasis on the trio's outwardly sleazy behavior, Kick 'n Rush feels as though it could be yet another misanthropic, Larry Clark-esque look at teen life. But the difference is that there's actual heart here; screenwriters Jesper Wung-Sung and Aage Rais transform these four characters into figures worth caring about and rooting for, something that could never be said of the folks that populate Clark's films. That the cast is comprised of actual teenagers certainly helps, and though the majority of these actors have little acting experience, there's no denying that their respective performances are incredibly effective.
Director Rais imbues Kick 'n Rush with a gritty, authentic sort of vibe that admittedly does take a while to get used to; while the the filmmaker's reliance on handheld cinematography lends the movie the feel of a documentary, the relentless shakiness can be off-putting at times. But this is a minor complaint for a film that is otherwise extremely well done and often quite touching.