The Garbage Pail Kids Movie
For the record, I wanna make a couple of things clear. One, most everyone involved in this movie seems to recognize it as something terrible, and two, I think this might be the worst movie I've ever seen in my life. This may be official for me. From this day forward, consider this movie that, because holy Jesus. Before I get going on it though, it should be known that it has become some kind of cult classic, along the lines of a "so bad it's good" movie. But dammit, for me, it doesn't even get that treatment.
This was my first time watching this, and I honestly and sadly expected to get some kind of nostalgic charm from it. I figured it would be a product of its time, and enjoyable for all the wrong reasons. It's widely known to be one of the worst movies ever made, sure, but I thought maybe I'd get a 'Howard the Duck' vibe at least. But why would I expect anything more from a movie about characters who are so one-dimensionally disgusting it's ridiculous?
This is a movie based on the Topps 'Garbage Pail Kids' craze of the 80's, which was a card-collecting spoof of the Cabbage Patch Kids craze of the same decade. These things were apparently huge, but considering they started in 1985, and I'd have been about 3 at the time, I was just too young for them. My version of what this probably would have been POGs, and for those who came after my generation, Funko Pops. I think POGs were the shortest lived, but it was a bright burn while it lasted.
Anyway, getting back to this atrocity, the film centers on a creepy 12-year-old kid named Dodger (Mackenzie Astin), who has a crush on a punk teenage girl named Tangerine (Katie Barberi). He wants to impress her, but keeps getting bullied by Tangerine's... boyfriend?... Juice (Ron MacLachlan), who is significantly older than Dodger, and their relationship is essentially just child abuse. We're supposed to like Dodger, and empathize with him, but he does things like sniff Tangerine's hair, and lurk outside her window. By the way, she is also significantly older than Dodger, and eventually, things do work out to get pretty creepy considering the whole thing.
As far as the Garbage Pail Kids themselves, they just kind of exist, do shit all but fart, burp, snot all over themselves, and even piss themselves... constantly! Now, one can't expect much from what these characters are on their respective cards, let's be fair. But there ARE ways to write good gross-out humor, which somehow, some way, works it into the story as well as the character. Like what if the kid who pees, pees for a reason instead of just going "hehehe, look at me pee, whee!" I don't care if it's "every time someone calls him by his name, he pees", it's a damn reason. Their only development whatsoever is that they end up helping Dodger out by making costumes that Tangerine can sell and take credit for and whatever, who cares at this point?
The whole moral of the story is a good one, but it's so shoved down your throat from the get-go that by the end, it loses all meaning. It's out to teach that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; a not so hard lesson to teach well. But it goes so overboard by making the GPK the horrifying heroes (and they are. Foul Phil is like a bad acid trip while looking at your baby), and most normal human beings so despicable that somewhere out there, there's apparently a State Home for the Ugly.
Let's talk about that. The State Home for the Ugly has got to be the most mean-spirited thing I've ever seen put in a movie - and I've seen 'Hostel'! People are rounded up like stray dogs, brought to the Home for the Ugly, and if you can believe it, these ugly people are even put down for no good reason. What in the name of cabbage crap kind of idea is that? It's so forced, it hurts, and it's nightmare fuel for an impressionable young mind. Imagine being in grade 1 or 2 and getting teased for being ugly. You come home, watch this movie, and have to ask your parents if one day you might have to be shipped off to the State Home of the Ugly! I got "threats" of the "Funny Farm" from my babysitter that I took quite seriously with my fragile little mind. Of course all she really meant was that I was being a funny kid, but I legit thought I was gonna get taken away.
I dunno what can be said positively about it aside from the attempt to teach a good moral. I draw the line there. Every single character in this is pretty detestable, including the young hero. The plot behind a movie that depicts one of the biggest 80's counter-culture crazes is about a boy trying to impress a girl while the film's namesake just exists. The Kids are just there, they do nothing but be their respective gross personalities. They go for laughs by not even reaching for low-hanging fruit, but by picking the fruit up off the ground. It leaps between being a more adult movie, with things like Tangerine taking off her top, and a kids movie, with things like a GPK sing-along. It's just a complete mess of a movie, and again, the filmmakers don't deny it. It's safe to say that this is one movie that belongs in the deep, dark reaches of the garbage pail.
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