In this image from "Kid 90," Soleil Moon Frye poses...

In this image from "Kid 90," Soleil Moon Frye poses with, a members of New Kids on the Block, among others. Credit: Soleil Moon Frye


WHERE Streaming on Hulu

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Soleil Moon Frye, the child star of the '80s sitcom "Punky Brewster," filmed home movies of herself and her famous friends throughout their teenage years during the 1990s.

Now, decades later, she's revisited that footage and assembled it into "Kid 90," now streaming on Hulu. It's a cinematic essay in which Frye looks back on what the experience of being a young star in show business was like at the time, how her memories and understanding of that moment have shaped her life, and the extent to which her friends who went through the similar rigors of fame at an impressionable age helped her through it all.

This is less of a documentary in the most predictable sense than it is a collage. Frye, who directed the movie, combines conventional elements — including talking head interviews with folks such as Mark-Paul Gosselaar ("Saved by the Bell") and Brian Austin Green ("Beverly Hills, 90210"), as well as her on-camera reflections as she re-watches this footage for the first time — with moving images from her past that seem to have been lifted straight from a dream.

MY SAY Frye deserves plaudits for making an honest and soul-bearing work in which she opens serious wounds and confronts long suppressed memories to confront her feelings about this tumultuous time in her life.

The images are, in one sense, quite remarkable. Everyone who was anyone during the early-to-mid-90s is here. A young Michael Rapaport offers his philosophy on life. Leonardo DiCaprio and Mario Lopez turn up at parties. A Mark Wahlberg voicemail is heard. Look, there's Corey Feldman! The list goes on and on.

Based on the framing in this movie, at least, virtually every young star in Hollywood spent a whole lot of time hanging out and developing a de facto support group in a difficult industry.

The appeal of the stargazing can only go so far. There's nothing illuminating about these home movies and recordings, unless you really do have a great deal of interest in what a youthful Rapaport or Feldman had to say or just cannot get enough of Wahlberg saying he's "just calling to say hi."

"Kid 90" is too unfocused and too thinly drawn, spanning a whole lot of time and experiences in just 71 minutes. It's clearly a deeply meaningful project for Frye and her friends — there are some heart-wrenching moments involving Green, among others.

The movie gets closer to landing an impact for viewers who don't really care about any of these people when Frye pulls away from parading her endless list of well-known friends and instead focuses more cohesively inward.

When she candidly discusses her struggles with feeling objectified as a teenager, which spurred her decision to undergo breast reduction surgery, or smartly uses the footage to show the gap between the role model public image imposed on her and the reality of her private teen self, she hits at something honest and resonant.

It's not a new revelation to suggest that being a child star in Hollywood is often a difficult experience, but through its scenes of these friendships being formed, "Kid 90" shows the extent to which being subject to this strange life can also lead to the creation of powerful and lasting bonds with those experiencing it alongside you.

BOTTOM LINE "Kid 90" is affecting and admirable, but it has limited appeal to anyone who didn't grow up as a superfan of "Punky Brewster."

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