The messaging in “Rich Kid$” might be heavy-handed, preachy even. The plot twists can be melodramatic and predictable. It’s still a fine indie calling card for all involved — in front of and behind the camera.
It’s “The Breakfast Club” meets “The Bling Ring” with a barrio accent, a well-acted day of escape for poor teens sampling the life of “los ricos,” “the rich folks,” just for a day.
It hangs on one question, just thrown out there in the middle of a pool party in a McMansion that turns into breaking and entering.
“So when did you find out your family was poor?”
Matias (Gerardo M Velasquez) has known for a while. His family getting evicted on this Labor Day morning confirmed it.
He spends just enough time pondering the problem to dive into teenage denial. He runs into somebody who knows a gated house with a pool. The “gringos” aren’t home. Pool party!
Nervous wreck cousin Steve (Justin Rodriguez) thinks they’ll get out without incurring extra risk. Then Matias invites smart Vanessa, bookish Izzyy and sexy Jasmime (Michelle Magallon, Naomë Antoinette, Alessandra Manon) over.
“Today, this is all ours! Today, we are ‘los ricos!'”
It’s a party! Romping in the pool, raiding the owners’ bar and emptying his bottles of Midori and what not.
And might romance be in the air? Matias has been sweet on Vanessa since childhood.
But local shoplifter/thug Carlos (Ulysses Montoya, terrific) gave Matias a cell he lifted from “Wally Martinez” (WalMart). He’s owed a favor. When he shows up, things have nowhere to go but “wrong.”
“Oh my God, this is just like GTA!” That’s “Grand Theft Auto” for the uninitiated.
The kids have personalities that add to the “types” they’re playing. Vanessa is a feminist, in addition to being the “one who most wants to get out.” Matias is smart, too, but he’s the king of “You can’t let Carlos DO that to you” to Steve, when Matias is just as intimidated by the “hard” guy as his sniveling cousin.
The David Saldaña, Laura Somers script (which she directed) takes corny turns — “Let’s get dressed up” in the rich folks’ cloths, “Let’s play ‘Truth or Dare!'” But it sometimes transforms those teen-party-picture cliches into something sharper.
The slang is solid, and it’s un-PC but funny to see kids recalling their parents’ Mexican toast.
“Arriba, abajo, al centro y pa’dentro,” “Up, down and in the middle, bottom’s up!”
“Rich Kid$” made a little noise on the festival circuit. Parking it on Netflix should be a “Hire me, I’m good” ad for everybody involved.
MPAA Rating: unrated, violence, sexual situations, alcohol and marijuana abuse
Cast: Gerardo M Velasquez, Justin Rodriguez, Michelle Magallon, Naomë Antoinette, Alessandra Manon and Ulysses Montoya.
Credits Directed by Laura Somers, scripted by David Saldaña, Laura Somers. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:37