Getting A Line On The Doom Generation

ATN's Jennie Yabroff checked out The Doom Generation , the

latest film by auteur Gregg Araki (which is the second installment in his

"Teenage Apocalypse" trilogy). Here is her report: In The Living

End , Gregg Araki's critically acclaimed debut feature, we

followed two alienated young men on a journey through the wasteland of

Southern California as they came to terms with their HIV positive

status and the basic meaningless of life at the end of the 20th

century. The Doom Generation follows what could be these two

men's younger siblings as they take to the highways for an eerily

similar voyage. But fear not. Araki hasn't run out of ideas. He is

simply honing his skill at depicting his own skewed view of America,

as represented by strip malls, hotel rooms, car cemeteries, and the

endless open road. Part John Waters farce, part Natural Born

Killers , part Clerks , The Doom Generation is all

Araki: gorgeously twisted, fundamentally fucked.

We meet our heroes at a rave, with Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction

look-alike Amy Blue moaning to her boyfriend Jordan White about how

monumentally boring the whole scene is. Amy wants a little adventure

in her life. At the drive-in later that same night she gets more than

she can handle, in the personage of one Xavier Red, who hijacks Amy

and Jordan, promptly saves their lives, and then makes them regret

ever meeting him. Early scenes between Amy, Xavier and Jordan are

heavy handed and forced, and do not bode well for the film. But once

the action picks up, all acting quibbles vanish as we are swept away

in the darkly comic adventures of Red, White, and Blue.

Araki has a soft spot for grossing out his audience, whether it be

with a talking decapitated head, or a close-up shot of fast food chili

cheese dogs with fries. After Xavier murders the convenience store

clerk who threatens to kill Amy and Jordan, the trio seem unable to

leave their car without adding to the body count, but most of the

violence in The Doom Generation is strictly the stuff of

"Mystery Science Theater," theatrical and fake. Fittingly, Amy and co.

seem unfazed by their increasingly murderous tendencies. The only time

they show any remorse or sadness is when Amy unwittingly hits a dog,

and Xavier must kill it to put it out of its misery. Hardly a new

theme, but the sobriety of the scene makes a nice contrast to the

over-the-top antics of the rest of the film.

Additionally, the appearance of many pop culture heroes (and

anti-heroes) make the film satisfyingly off-beat, and further smear

the line between the reality of the trio's circumstance, and the

televised version of reality they have grown up on. Cameos by Perry

Farrell, Parker Posey, Amanda Bearse (of "Married With Children"

fame), Lauren Tewes (Julie from "The Love Boat"), Christopher Knight

("The Brady Bunch", but you knew that) and Heidi Fleiss (just ask

Charlie Sheen) credit Araki's growing reputation.

Although The Doom Generation is not as thoughtful or

reflective as The Living End , in some ways it is a better

movie: multi-layered and less pedantic, Araki is unafraid to make fun

of all that is distinctly American. Yet he never lets his film cross

the line to pure farce, and his ending is a hard, tough look at the

circumstances his characters have gotten themselves into. They don't

go out with a bang, and they don't go out with a whimper. Instead they

simply go on, in an ending that is honest and stark. Araki is carving

a niche for himself in the current movie making scene, and as flashy

and outrageous as his films may be, it is his ending that set him

apart.