Soleil Moon Frye starred on an 80s sitcom called Punky Brewster when she was just 7 years old. When the show ended, she’d had a strange and abbreviated childhood. Only a wild and weird adolescence could possibly follow, but this one she would spend behind a camera rather than in front of it.
She and her friends, all of them young Hollywood royalty, had the money and access to do whatever they pleased. It was the 90s; the internet wasn’t a worry yet, going viral meant something else entirely, they could do what they wanted with no consequences. And they were young: they hadn’t learned yet to be jaded or guarded or filtered. Among friends, they let it all hang out, and it didn’t matter that one of them constantly hauled around a camcorder because behind it was Soleil’s friendly face. Thirty years have gone by, and Frye is only now taking this footage out of the vault to share with us. She’s created a living portrait of a lot of famous faces, but also of a time and place that no longer exists.
Frye’s famous friends include Stephen Dorff, David Arquette, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Jonathan Brandis, Charlie Sheen, Balthazar Getty, Jenny Lewis, Brian Austin Green, and briefer appearances by Robin Thicke, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joey Lawrence, Mark Wahlberg, Sara Gilbert, Corey Feldman, Mark McGrath, Kevin Connelly, and way more besides. Hard-hitting topics covered include Brian Austin Green’s misguided rap album, Soleil Moon Frye’s breast reduction, a live Bronco chase watch party, and the meteoric rise of House of Pain. And more seriously, suicide, a subject that comes up much more often than average within Frye’s set.
Soleil Moon Frye, who is the documentary’s subject as well as its director, constantly challenges the notion of memory – does she remember these heady days correctly? The same as everyone else? Does it even matter? It’s an act of remembering and remembrance – sometimes wistful, sometimes painful, sometimes playful, sometimes tinged with regret. Fry had hundreds of hours of footage but crafts something that is very watchable, and that serves a greater narrative. It’s fun to see some famous faces de-aged, it’s fun that so many of her famous friends were musicians who contribute to the soundtrack. But this, for a young woman who didn’t have a normal high school experience, is her yearbook. Many of the faces she’s lost touch with over the years, others she’s grieved and lost. But these images live on, telling a story with one common theme: we were here.
Kid 90 will stream on Hulu on March 12 2021; the Punky Brewster reboot is already available on Peacock.