Saturday, July 30, 2005

Film Review: The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)

As a young child who projectile vomitted constantly, the Garbage Pail Kids were an inspiration to me. So, it was with some trepidation that I watched the movie on DVD. Would it be a charmingly delightful romp, or less than I expected? Well, it did the nearly impossible, my friends. This is one of those movies that is so completely misguided and badly made that it becomes a sort of "perfect storm" of crap filmmaking.

Admittedly, it isn't the easiest thing to do making a film with the Garbage Pail Kids as characters. I mean, how exactly do you give Windy Winston a back-story? The entire joke is that he farts while playing a trombone? How do you make that engaging? Also, how exactly do you make characters whose selling point is that they are revolting parodies of Cabbage Patch Kids into suitable characters in a kids movie? They could have done this like Bad Taste, Peter Jackson's NC-17 all-puppet Muppet parody, and it might have worked. But, oh-no, they decided to make a sacharine kiddie movie based around a character who farts constantly, one who vomits, a girl whose nose runs all the time, a mysogynist greaser and... no, I'm not kidding.

So, the movie stars Mckensie Astin and was directed by Inept Ian... I mean, Rodney Amateau, who apparently cut his teeth directing Gilligan's Island and a movie entitled Son of Hitler before ending his career with this movie and dying of a massive cerebral hemorrage. Nope, not making that up either. Incredibly, he was also a stunt double on Rebel Without a Cause. Anyway, this story is about a kid with no family named Dodger who seems fairly well-dressed for a street urchin. I'm guessing that he has no family because the writers spent all of their creative energys on the garbage pail kids and said "Ah, fuck it. Make him an orphan!"

The Kids themselves landed on earth in a trash-can space-ship from some outer-space planet that the writers couldn't be bothered to name. Why they came to earth is also never explained. I'm guessing that one of the writers here was Cocaine Carol and the other was Blow Bob. It was the 80s after all. Anway, the trash-can lands in the antique store owned Cap'n Mancini (Antony Newley) who dropped out of society because of his horror of nuclear war. No, I swear I'm not making this up! Anyway, the Cap'n doesn't want to open the trash can that appears in his shop, and Dodger has his own problems, being in love with a 30-year-old slut named Tangerine, and persued by a group of thugs, also in their 30s, who want him to give them money, soak him in refuse, and call him "creep" a lot.

Finally, the Kids show up, and they look basically like deformed children with enormous heads and lifeless eyes. Does that sound a bit creepy? Well, I'm guessing more than one child wet themselves in this movie, while adults complained about the fact that the kids' mouths almost never move when they're talking. Aside from that, they look pretty good, and it's worth noting that the FX team that did this movie also did Ghoulies, because the characters essentially look the same. Anway, we have Windy Winston, who has no backstory and well, basically just farts a lot, Ali Gator, who is an aligator child that carries around a lunchbox full of bloody human body parts, Messy Tessy, who is snotty, Greaser Greg, who is a greaser named Greg, Valerie Vomit, who is bulimic, Nat Nerd, who has glasses and terrible acne and pisses himself a lot, and a kid with a big head who has bad breath. Taming of the Shrew this is not. Actually, it comes closest to a remake of Todd Browning's Freaks, but for children.

Anyway, the plot is propelled forward like a drunk falling down a flight of stairs. Dodger has the hots for Tangerine who is a fashionista in the Cyndi Lauper mode, but who is in love with the coke-head Juice, who is head of the thugs who beat up Dodger for no apparent reason. Luckily, the Kids can sew really well for no apparent reason. The Kids teach Dodger about friendship, make clothes for him to give to Tangerine using both snot and sewing equipment they stole from a building with a huge signfront reading "Sweat-shop", and sing a song about teamwork. I'm sorry, but is it any wonder that the director suffered a massive cerebral hemorrage? I feel one coming on just typing about this.

Tangerine and the thugs steal the clothes for a fashion show and send the kids to the State Home for the Ugly, where the physically imperfect are sent to be kept in cages and murdered. The filmmakers try to make this section comedic to, you know, balance out the Holocaust elements that might not play so well in a kid's movie, but it falls flat. Finally, the scary bikers from the scary biker bar that is in every single 80s comedy come to rescue the kids, who they've come to respect because Winston farts a lot. The kids trash the fashion show, a scene which climaxes with Winston farting and the other one vomitting, and there's a happy ending. Well, except for the fact that the other kids in the Home for the Ugly have logically been killed. Dodger decides that he was never into Tangerine at all, although maybe he'd be into her sister Kiwi, and the kids leave to enter a world that apparently will hunt them down and kill them. In the end, it's sort of like the Goonies, except for about deformed vomitting children from outer space who escape from a humerous concentration camp by working together. Ah, a perfect storm...


rosa said...
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rosa said...

Liked your review! Ive seen that movie too (recently, not as a kid in the 80s) and i actually enjoyed it!Being a former film studies student I watch a lot of typesof movies. Although lacking in story line a bit, i found the visuals interesting and i liked as its a very 80s movie, and a"movie, like no other you've ever seen before" You make some great points!:)