Friday, August 14, 2009

Kenny and Co. (1976, Don Coscarelli)

I'm sure when most people hear the name Don Coscarelli they instantly think of either two films - Phantasm or Beastmaster. Phantasm is on many people's top horror movie lists and Beastmaster is a classic adventure film that every single person in the United States who was alive in the 80's saw at least 18 times on TV. As is evident by these two films, and some of his other films (the action film Survival Quest and the horror fantasy Bubba Ho-Tep starring Bruce Campbell as Elvis Presley), Coscarelli has delved into many different genres. Kenny and Co. is no exception.

Kenny and Co. follows a 12 year old named Kenny (Dan McCann), his best friend Doug (Phantasm's A. Michael Baldwin) and their younger annoying neighbor Sherman (Jeff Roth). Halloween is coming up and the film follows the boys getting ready for their favorite holiday. The movie also features the boys doing average kid things - sabotaging school projects, avoiding bullies and playing with firecrackers.

This might sound like it could just be a lame kids movie, but the truth is that Kenny and Co. is anything but. On the surface, the movie seems pretty safe but once you get into it you realize that the film takes the viewer for a roller coaster ride or emotions. The scenes involving Kenny trying to find the courage to talk to a girl and facing death, both of a pet and of a human life, open up the nostalgia flood gates, bringing us all back to a time where childhood innocence is first threatened by adulthood. Even the lighter subjects covered in the film and the scenes of every day life for a typical preteen is something anyone can relate to. That is where the film excels as one of, if not the, most realistic and identifiable coming of age film I have ever seen. The actors, which are comprised mostly of Coscarelli's friends, relatives and neighborhood kids, all add human qualities that are lost by many professional actors. This film made me laugh, shed a tear or two and yearn for the time when every day, though filled with uncertainty and fear, was an adventure.


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