'Kids in America'

Nicole Richie loyalists are sure to be confounded (along with the rest of us) by Kids in America, the weirdly anti-Bush high school "satire" that is also Richie's big-screen debut. Very loosely based on true stories, this inelegant paean to free speech begins with the hunky but misunderstood Holden Donovan (Gregory Smith) getting suspended for a piece of performance art; it then proceeds to rip off every teen flick from Heathers to Napoleon Dynamite. Imploring his students to "change 'da world," straight-shooting teach Mr. D (Malik Yoba) inspires a ragtag band of clichés to stand up for Holden and take down their superfine, student-hating principal. Mislaid attempts at topical humor generally fare about as well as this atomic bomb: "Trying to find talent at Booker High is like trying to find weapons of mass destruction in my anus."

 
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