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  Garbage Pail Kids Movie, The What A Load Of RubbishBuy this film here.
Year: 1987
Director: Rod Amateau
Stars: Anthony Newley, Mackenzie Astin, Katie Barberi, Phil Fondacaro, Ron MacLachlan, J.P. Amateau, Marjory Graue, Debbie Lee Carrington, Kevin Thompson, Bobby Bell, Larry Green, Arturo Gil, Susan Rossitto, John Cade, Lynn Cartwright, Leo Gordon
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Dodger (Mackenzie Astin) is a fourteen-year-old kid with an age old problem: he is being bullied, in this case by a gang of older kids led by Juice (Ron MacLachlan). However, in that gang is Tangerine (Katie Barberi), an aspiring fashion designer who Dodger thinks is the bee's knees, and would do anything to impress her, though that doesn't look possible when he's being picked on all the time. He has a job in the antiques shop of Captain Manzini (Anthony Newley), and does his best, but he has been told never to touch the garbage can kept there, never knowing why until one fateful day...

And it was a fateful day for those who opted to touch this film, too, generally regarded as one of the worst children's movies of all time, and one of those few based on a series of trading cards - it's safe to say this was no Mars Attacks!, and even that only mustered a cult following. But of course, those Garbage Pail Kids were popular among a certain type of child who gravitated towards the disgusting, and their depictions of comically unpleasant characters were undeniably memorable, even if they were not really enough to build a movie around, as this misbegotten work was testament to. The result was that it became one of those "did this really happen?" artefacts.

Well, it did really happen, although you may wish it was consigned to the dustbin of pop culture ephemera. Our director was Rod Amateau, a man with a history of, shall we say, unusual projects, and this fit into his canon very comfortably. But what of Anthony Newley? He played the Kids' mentor - for some reason the second they emerge from their can he is planning to put them straight back in there, something about them not being safe out here in the real world, although for whom is not specified. The title characters were not actually played by children, but by midgets in suits, Howard the Duck style and no less offputting.

They consist of a collection of youngsters, whose plastic animatronic heads fool nobody in the audience, for whom their defining characteristic is their most offensive feature, so there's one who farts volcanically, one whose nose runs constantly, one who pisses himself, and one who is an alligator. An alligator who likes to eat toes. Huh? That's the calibre of the little folks, but they also get to perform a rap about how teamwork is the right way to go forward, so for all their subversive surface, underneath they were peddling the same self-improvement stuff of many a kids' movie of the time, and none too smoothly either as it's Dodger who they set out to improve as well.

This is because the script has a fashion design preoccupation, meaning a large chunk of the story is given over to Tangerine's attempts to break into that industry using the creations of the Garbage Pail Kids that they have rustled up from the material in the shop. There's also a message about not going out of your way to impress those who are unworthy of you, which is fair enough, but in this context pat and corny, and besides you'll be more likely to be scratching your head over the other choices the film makes. Take the asylum the GPKs are being threatened with, the "State Home for the Ugly", which sounds like a clumsy attempt at Roald Dahl stylings, but just shows yet another misstep, especially when we see inside and the inmates include Ghandi ("Too Bald") and Santa Claus ("Too Fat"). This was bottom of the barrel and evidence that its flimsy premise - publicising bubble gum cards - was not strong enough, though fans of the weird and frankly wrong may find something to amuse them. Music by Michael Lloyd.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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