The latest bit of insanity from filmmaker Gregg Araki mixes hot guys, hot babes and copious amounts of angst and sex into an explosive thermonuclear cocktail called “Kaboom.”

The latest bit of insanity from filmmaker Gregg Araki mixes hot guys, hot babes and copious amounts of angst and sex into an explosive thermonuclear cocktail called “Kaboom.”


And while it will surely blow you away with its unapologetic style and moxie, the movie is ultimately somewhat of a dud. It also marks a setback in the Araki oeuvre, which peaked in 2005 with “Mysterious Skin,” his haunting portrayal of the long-term implications of child molestation.


The movie made Joseph Gordon Levitt a star and cemented Araki’s standing as a master writer and director. Apparently the success was too daunting for Araki, whose post “Skin” career choices have been indeed, mysterious.


First there was 2007’s “Smiley Face,” starring Anna Faris as a connoisseur of pot-laced cupcakes. And now “Kaboom,” a sci-fi coming-of-age mash-up as maddening as it is daring.


Granted, there are substantive moments, especially in its affronts to what many consider “normal” sexual behavior, but it’s presented with such nonchalance that it loses all meaning.


Coming to the rescue is a highly appealing cast of little-known young stars led by Thomas Dekker and Haley Bennett as Smith and Stella, lifelong platonic friends sharing an affinity for limitless bisexual adventures, including mating with witches and the offspring of megalomaniac men bent on world destruction. Oh, did I mention that this is a lighthearted comedy?


When we first meet Smith and Stella, they’ve just begun their freshmen years at an idyllic Southern California university, where everyone seems to be majoring in kinky sex. Of the two, Smith is the most complex. The skinny brainiac lusts for his dimwitted jock roommate, Thor (Chris Zylka), but regularly sleeps with his free-spirited sex buddy, London (Juno Temple from “Atonement”). But his mind is elsewhere, preoccupied with thoughts about his lascivious mother (Kelly Lynch) and recurring nightmares that are shaking him to the core.


Stella, meanwhile, has issues of her own with her new girlfriend, Lorelei (Roxane Mesquida), an enchantress in more ways than one, particularly under the covers. Stella loves the sex but is troubled by both her new partner’s possessiveness and her insatiable appetite for dispensing physical pleasure.


Adding to Smith and Stella’s sexual confusion is their growing concern over a gorgeous redheaded coed (Nicole LaLiberte) who Smith is convinced was either murdered or kidnapped by three people wearing animal masks. And now the masked beings seem to be stalking Smith between his sexual adventures with London and another hunky man (Jason Olive) who he first encounters on a nude beach.


At first glance, all the sex, paranoia and mystery appear to lead nowhere, but it all comes neatly together in the final 20 minutes, which by far contain the movie’s most outrageous moments. It doesn't always work, but Araki deserves praise for enabling the story’s many fragments to cleverly coalesce into an explosive conclusion.


Yes, it’s a satisfying end, but the whole experience feels empty and inconsequential; not at all what you’d expect from Araki, whose idea of “Kaboom” is rooted too much in the banging and not enough in the fallout.


KABOOM(Not rated) Cast includes Thomas Dekker, Haley Bennett and Juno Temple. Written and directed by Gregg Araki. 2.5 stars out of 4.