Kid 90 review: Soleil Moon Frye documentary features Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio

UNSPECIFIED - MARCH 03: In this screengrab, Soleil Moon Frye attends a Virtual Mamarazzi with The MOMS Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein for the new documentary "Kid 90" on March 3, 2021. "Kid 90" will begin streaming March 12. (Photo by The MOMS Network Inc/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - MARCH 03: In this screengrab, Soleil Moon Frye attends a Virtual Mamarazzi with The MOMS Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein for the new documentary "Kid 90" on March 3, 2021. "Kid 90" will begin streaming March 12. (Photo by The MOMS Network Inc/Getty Images) /

Soleil Moon Frye rose to fame as a precocious seven-year-old child star on the hit ’80s sitcom Punky Brewster. The 44-year-old actress/director gained the spotlight as a pioneering influencer before Instagram was all the rage by picking up a camera and documenting every aspect of her life in her Hulu documentary Kid 90.

“We weren’t concerned about the internet,” Frye states. “We did the things that teenagers did. We just happened to be in Hollywood.” (Can you imagine a time without selfies, the internet, Twitter and smartphones? Because this was when technology was just beginning to advance.)

Frye embarked on a roller coaster ride that began in the Ronald Reagan “say no to drugs” era and continued through the grunge ’90s. Drew Barrymore reminisced about their times with First Lady Nancy Reagan’s “just say no to drugs” campaign during a recent talk show appearance to promote the film. “We were at the White House at the same time doing the same ‘just say no’ campaign,” Barrymore admitted. Drew once caused a stir for writing a controversial tell-all memoir called Little Girl Lost about her troubled childhood and battle with drug addiction.

Soleil wanted to set the record straight with Barrymore. Although she shares her memories in Kid 90, revealing that she experimented with drugs while telling kids to stay sober, she was not being a hypocrite. There is one funny part where she is so high and tripping on mushrooms that I was surprised she didn’t shout out the words “Punky Power”.

"“Totally…completely. And finally for the record. I did the just say no, say no to drugs campaign before I was partying. Everyone was like, ‘Were you partying and with that?’ I was like, ‘No I was partying, but it was a few years later.’ I remember my mom losing me and then finding me. I was literally hanging out in the Oval Office with my legs up — that did not come out right. I had my feet kicked up, and I was eating fried chicken because my mom couldn’t find me. I had partied, was not partying, then went back to partying. We were kicking it with the Reagans at the White House!”"

Kid 90 feels like opening a time capsule

Soleil culled all of her own archives of home videotapes audio recordings and journal entries into a fascinating found-footage time capsule. Kid 90  includes talking-head interviews with her famous friends from the industry, reflecting on their childhoods as adults.

It is a treat to look back at the memories of baby-faced reflections of 90201 actor, Brian Austin Green, and Saved by the Bell‘s Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Leonardo DiCaprio makes a few brief appearances during his teen years. These are tender moments when DiCaprio is acting like any average kid who is playing around while hanging out with their friends. The public persona of DiCaprio has been captured  through the years as he ventured through the NY and LA nightlife scene with his group dubbed the “Wolf Pack.”

Paparazzi are only able to capture guarded moments with the heartthrob hiding his face and ducking from cameras as he darts through secret entrances into hot spots.

I have always felt that Leo was swoon-worthy since his iconic role in Titanic. But witnessing this moment added to the mystique and made me fall harder. Soleil confirmed during her chat with Drew that the how the film was a labor of love. “The amazing Leo who I love so much with all of my heart. Everyone rallied around it was so incredible to see that support.” The Oscar winner serves as an executive producer on the movie along with Sean Penn.

The great thing about this intimate project is that you are reliving the experience as though you are there in the room. The sad thing is that there were so many tragedies where her friends succumbed to excessive drug use, suicide, and mental illness. “It got pretty crazy. It was like our 60’s,”  actor Steven Dorff tells her while recalling the past. His late brother was one of the many friends that Moon Frye remembers at the end of the film as being tragically gone too soon.

We travel through childhood and enter the awkward stage of puberty while  Frye develops breasts and decides to publicly speak on the talk show circuit about getting breast reduction surgery. “I started developing rapidly. People started calling me Punky Boobster.”

We see the sweetness of her boyfriend, Jonathan Brandis, as he comforts through her ordeal and kisses her on the cheek. Years later the former Disney star would be dead after succumbing to depression and committing suicide. Moon Frye shares troubled voice messages that she later realized were cries for help that she foolishly ignored.  “I didn’t know what true self-worth was until this process,” she says in the film.

The biggest shocker is when Frye reads a journal entry dated December 18, 1994, that she lost her virginity to Charlie Sheen when she was 18 and he was 29.  “It’s been the most strange and incredible day ever. He’s somebody I’ve had a crush on for years. He’s a person that intrigues me and excites me.”  She continues to compare Sheen with Sex and The City’s  Carrie Bradshaw and refers to him as her own fictional Mr. Big in the film. Us Weekly asked the Two and a Half Men star how he felt after the news that he slept with Punky Brewster went viral.

“She’s a good egg. I wish Soleil well in this resurgence of hers,” he told the publication.  “Thanks for giving everyone this incredible window into your journey that everyone watching is going to marvel at,” Drew Barrymore told her friend about the vérité behind the scenes look at a first-person narrative.

Kid 90 is a grainy slice of nostalgia set to a Pearl Jam and Cranberries infused soundtrack, which will have you yearning to pull out the photo album, while fondly thumbing through your own past.

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Kid 90 is currently streaming on Hulu.