Synopsis by Mark Deming
Photographer and filmmaker Larry Clark offers another look at the inner workings of urban youth culture in this comedy drama. Jonathan (Jonathan Velasquez) is a teenaged El Salvadorian refugee living in a primarily Mexican-American and African-American neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles. Jonathan and a handful of fellow Salvadorian émigrés who are his best friends stand out like sore thumbs on the block, due less to their national origin than because they've rejected the hip-hop music and fashion around them in favor of old-school punk, as favored by the Ramones and latter-day Latino bands such as Suicidal Tendencies. Jonathan and his pals Kiko (Francisco Pedrasa), Eddie (Eddie Velasquez), Porky (Usvaldo Panameno), and Spermball (Milton Velasquez) have a group of their own, and Jonathan, a sweet but streetwise kid who has a way with the girls, is the lead singer. Like all good punk rockers, Jonathan and his bandmates are seriously into skateboarding, and one day they hop several busses and make a pilgrimage to a legendary skate spot in Beverly Hills. If the kids felt like outsiders in South Central, they soon discover they're unwelcome outcasts in the moneyed L.A. suburbs; before long they're on the run from cops as well as Anglo skaters, and even Jonathan's chance assignation with a neighborhood sexpot leads to no small share of drama. Wassup Rockers received its world premiere at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival.
punk-rock, refugee, rock-band, skateboarding, teenagers