I’ve seen it all when it comes to movies for the younger set. The best way to describe writer-director Mike Heff’s feature, Punk Kids, is it’s the hard-edge family film you’ve been looking for. Punk music, a bit of swearing, and a heartfelt message to get your kids on the right track in life and then back into punk music.
Elmer (Wynton Odd), or Elmo to his friends, is a high school teen with mad drumming skills. Much to his father’s dismay, Elmo has joined a band called Snotty with his best friends, Sid (Kailii Nau) and Nancy (Stephanie Heiner). Together they have the potential to be something. Their dream is to one day play at the notorious punk music hall, the 429 Theater. When Elmo’s sister, Tay (Rachelle Highbrou), begins dating a member of a “real” punk band, becoming their opening act would give them the “in” they need to make their dreams come true. Now, they only need a demo.
After getting scammed by a phony producer, the only chance Snotty has to impress is the upcoming school talent show. Since the judging committee hates punk music, the only way to get into the show is to take a church choir girl, Ruby (Jasmin Corley), and pretend to be a legit popular band. The plan is totally punk, but Sid wants Ruby gone the moment the scheme is done.
“Their dream is to one day play at the notorious punk music hall, the 429 Theater.”
While Punk Kids boasts a lot of punk music and a bit of swearing, there is family-friendly drama permeating the story. Elmo is having difficulty relating to his recently divorced father, and tensions mount when he’s caught stealing from the church to pay for the demo record. Sid is the hardcore punk purist and absolutely hates the fact that Snotty is going “pop” just to get into the talent show (which he also hates). This “ends justifies the means” guy has no problem stringing Ruby along for his benefit.
The heart of the story is about following your dreams. Nancy wants to become a songwriter. Ruby wants to join a band to sing and make friends. Elmo and Sid just want to express themselves through punk. Odd, Nau, Heiner, and Corley perform well for young actors, and the music is an excellent introduction to young people unfamiliar with punk.
With its punk setting, Punk Kids is a family film in tone. Positivity is on order, and nothing goes below any family-friendly teen shenanigans. There’s even a tame religious lesson at Elmo’s church. Overall, Heff’s drama gets a recommendation for telling a solid narrative for the pre-teen set. If you don’t mind some swearing (mostly the “S”-word), this film is a great alternative that sets itself apart from the crowded, family-friendly fair on the market today.
For screening information, visit the Punk Kids official website.
"…a great alternative that sets itself apart..."