The kids are not all right, in the view of writers Charlie Haas and Tim Hunter and director Jonathan Kaplan, in this searingly honest film, and what makes their portrait of late '70s teen angst so powerful is its generic quality. The setting is a new suburb, bulldozed of vegetation, shorn of any personality. The school is new and as sterile as all the baseball and football parks that were erected during this period. The adults are irritable or indifferent and mostly absent. Most of the teenagers here are neither members of the National Honor Society nor any gangs, but they are all bored and angry. Michael Kramer is Carl, the linchpin character, the basically good boy who can't help but find trouble; he knows that something's happening, but he doesn't know what it is. Over the Edge can be seen as the Apocalypse Now of teen films, a journey into the heart of American darkness with an explosive ending, that, unlike the one in Rock 'n Roll High School (all three films were released the same year), is no joke.