cheek by jowl

‘The Wackness’ vs. ‘Kids’: Which Is More Authentically 1994?

Sure, the new movie The Wackness — about a New York City teen whose weed-dealing exploits take him all over the city in the summer of ‘94 — is chock-full of references to Zimas, pagers, Kurt Cobain, and A Tribe Called Quest. But really, how on the money is it? To find out, we consulted another film about New York City teens that was actually filmed in 1994: Larry Clark’s burnout-teens vérité Kids. What’s more true to the NYC nineties we remember: Zima or AIDS? Let’s take a look. —Piper Weiss


The Wackness
Story line NYC kids spend one day in the summer of ‘94 smoking weed and deflowering virgins. NYC prep-school kid spends the summer of ‘94 dealing weed and getting himself deflowered.
Uniform Backpacks, loose T-shirts, baggy khakis, Adidas. Backpacks, loose T-shirts, baggy khakis, Adidas.
References to Giuliani, Kurt Cobain, pagers, and 90210 Zero. Eight.
References to AIDS Too many to count. Zero.
Uses of the word "wack" Zero. Too many to count.
Creepy real-life character from the streets of New York The "I have no legs" guy on the subway. Mary-Kate Olsen.
Dramatic slow-motion walking scene A group of kids with 40s walking down the Park Avenue median. Ben Kingsley and Josh Peck strolling down a street, bridge in the background.
Main character's worst fear realized Getting AIDS. Moving to New Jersey.
Reaction from a New Yorker who was actually a teen in 1994 Aside from all the sex, fairly realistic. Totally unbelievable: We never added a suffix to the word "wack."
‘The Wackness’ vs. ‘Kids’: Which Is More Authentically 1994?