The movie Pups is suffering the consequences of being too timely. First, the Columbine killings prompted producers too put it on hold, and the recent shooting death of a 6 year old seems to have further delayed a nationwide release. Written and directed by British auteur Ash, Pups is an edgy and original take on what happens when a confused 13-year-old boy, Stevie (Cameron Van Hoy), finds a gun in his mom's closet. He takes it to school. But before Stevie and his girlfriend (The Sixth Sense's Mischa Barton) get to home room, Stevie decides to hold up a bank. And that is where the movie remains—in a surreal and media-saturated hostage/holdup situation—until its bitter end.
Burt Reynolds leads the team as an F.B.I. agent trying to make sure nobody gets hurt. But the real stars are the kids: with realistic (and realistically banal) dialogue with Reynolds and their hostages, they do an excellent job conveying youth befuddled by too much TV and a bent, lonely sense of reality. One of the movie's strangest moments arrives when—at Stevie's gunpoint request—MTV's Kurt Loder comes to interview him. It's a deft move on Ash's part: Loder is expectedly droll and standoffish, and his very diffidence comments on how the creators of the American hype have little or no interest in those whom it impacts most deeply. This is powerful work.