Movie Review: The Garbage Pail Kids Movie

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These days, it isn't uncommon for Hollywood to take advantage of nostalgic moviegoers any way they know how.  Studios snag up every video game, toy line and television series from days gone by, throw in some half-brained story to fill in the holes and then pour the toxic mixture onto screens everywhere with little regard for the source material.  They line their pockets with our hard-earned dollars while simultaneously masturbating with our tears, but we keep going back for more, praying that the next abomination will make up for the latest one already floating around the $5 DVD bin at your nearest Wal-Mart.  This scheme isn't necessarily a new one; it just wasn't as prevalent in the 80s, but when it was used, we often ended up with bullshit like The Garbage Pail Kids Movie.


Out of the gate, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie certainly had potential, especially considering the controversies caused by the cards at the height of their popularity.  The hallmark of the series was its colorful cast of characters modeled after the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, each of which suffered from his / her / its own disgusting ailment.  Whether it be Acne Amy and her pulsating zits or Cole Gate and his pus-ridden, toothpaste-dispensing tongue, kids couldn't get enough of them, eventually leading to the cards being banned from schools for distracting students from their studies.  As the first film ever based on a trading card series, there wasn't much of a backstory explaining the origins of the Kids, so what did the studio do?  They pulled a Michael Bay, introducing them as creatures from another world, and if that wasn't enough, another Bay-esque trick was employed -- centering the plot around a bunch of human characters that the audience couldn't care less about.

That last sentence included the most flippant use of the word "plot" in the last decade.  As the opening titles begin, a trash can equipped with rocket thrusters spins out of control toward Earth.  The movie mercifully spares the details as to how washed-up magician Captain Manzini winds up possessing the vessel, which he hides in his magic shop, but not well enough from lone employee Dodger, whose curiosity inevitably gets the best of him.  Mackenzie Astin carries the thankless task of playing Dodger and does an okay job considering the absurdness unfolding around him, but it's next to impossible to forgive him for accidentally releasing the Kids from their metallic prison -- Nat Nerd with his pimpled face and oversensitive bladder; Messy Tessie constantly dripping snot; Greaser Greg, sporting a leather jacket and switchblade; Foul Phil, a mutant baby who believes that everyone is his mom; Windy Winston and his hurricane wind flatulence; Valerie Vomit, who lives up to her name exactly once throughout the entire picture; and Ali Gator, carrying a cache of human toes and eyeballs in a lunchbox for a nice midday snack.

It's one thing to put pen to paper and sketch wacky-looking monsters for the purpose of entertaining third graders.  It's a completely different job birthing said monsters into a live-action film where they associate with human actors.  Budget constraints forced executives to hire any two-bit animatronic "expert" who happened to be strolling through the backlot that day, and it showed -- the Kids have bulbous, oversized heads and facial features that surely frightened the pants off of the six or seven unfortunate children who saw this fiasco in theaters.  Apparently, the special effects team pleaded with director Rod Amateau to grant them more time to finer-tune the Kids' masks, but Amateau forged ahead, assuring them that the mechanical parts inside would magically work themselves out.  As a result, the lines spoken by the tykes rarely sync up with their mouths, not that it matters since viewers quickly learn to plug their ears every time the little bastards appear onscreen.  Aside from their sickening deformities, not much is done to distinguish the Kids from one another as the script evenly disperses to each of them some of the worst dialog this side of Troll 2.

Oh yeah, so there's a story, or rather two stories that take turns filling in the spaces between scenes of the Kids roaming around aimlessly, causing menace and just generally acting like assholes.  One involves Dodger and his unattainable crush, the much older Tangerine, a wholly-unlikable bimbo who exploits the Kids' talent for designing clothes to get ahead in the fashion industry.  I can't make this shit up, people.  Ali Gator and the gang inexplicably know their way around a sewing machine and don't mind slaving away for Dodger in order for him to win Tangerine's affection.  All they ask for in return is candy and Cap'n Crunch.  The other story picks up later on when Tangerine's tough guy buddies kidnap the aliens and dump them in the State Home For the Ugly, a penitentiary built to imprison and execute whomever they believe too physically horrendous to be seen in public.  Again, I can't make this shit up.  Why am I spending so much time explaining the inane events that take place during this movie's unbearable 96 minutes?  If you must watch one "Topps Chewing Gum Production," I suggest Tim Burton's 1996 sci-fi parody Mars Attacks!

The Verdict: Imagine spending months of your life toiling away behind a camera, simultaneously balancing all of the ceaseless responsibilities that go along with film directing, pouring every ounce of yourself into this particular picture, only to have the completed product kill your career faster than you can say "box-office bomb."  When director Rod Amateau accepted the task of helming The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, which went on to earn three Razzie Award nominations, the mess that transpired made a puddle of Valerie Vomit's puke shine by comparison.  Amateau never made another movie after this travesty, and then in 2003, he died.  This is his legacy, folks.  Hopefully the remake sucks a little less dumpster sludge.

Rating: out of


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