As a child of the '80s, I -- along with most of my friends -- "collected" Garbage Pail Kids (GPK) cards, which is to say I had about two dozen of them one summer.
And, yes, I did own the "Doug" card -- Doug Plug, a cartoon of a dog peeing on a fire hydrant-shaped Doug. It was one of my most cherished possessions for part of one afternoon.
are two archival newspaper clippings decrying the impact these cards had impressionable children. Reagan's America!
Today, we consider GPK cards tame. Quaint, even -- a pop culture relic from 25 years ago. Honestly, I'm more offended these days by Bratz dolls than I am by vulgar caricatures of Cabbage Patch Kids.
I didn't see The Garbage Pail Kids Movie when it first came out in 1987. In fact, I've never seen the movie (before this past Sunday, that is). It was completely off my radar. And now I know why.
It is the WORST. And not in a good way.
Unlike Troll 2 (the legit "Best Worst Movie"), there's nothing redeeming about The Garbage Pail Kids Movie -- it is ugly and slow and uninteresting. And the acting, while BETTER (these are relative terms) than Troll 2, only serves to further drag the movie down. I can't even enjoy it on an ironic level -- the acting is too good (which is to say, not great, but not horrible) to laugh at, which would have at least given me something to do for 96 minutes.
Before the movie started, I had no idea what it was going to be about. Would it take place in a self-contained GPK universe? A fish-out-of-water story? Horror (the creature design certainly seems to imply as much)? A coming-of-age tale of three adolescent boys on a late-summer journey to see a dead body in the woods, only to discover that GARBAGE PAIL KIDS were the murderers?
So ... this movie is an allegory for child slave labor and the fashion industry, right?
Probably not. That's too much to expect from a movie produced by Atlantic Releasing Corporation and fucking TOPPS CHEWING GUM. Still waiting for their live-action Bazooka Joe joint ...
A few random notes I jotted down during the movie:
- The GPKs apparently came to earth from outer space (YES) via a garbage pail-shaped spaceship! While featured prominently in the title sequence, this is NEVER BROUGHT UP AGAIN.
- What '80s movie didn't feature green slime?
- If the goal of director Rod Amateau (RIP) was to make a funhouse nightmare, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
- Humans have appeared, and they're only slightly less scary than the GPKs. And adult bullies terrorizing weak children in a public park during the day in front of everyone? Brilliant.
- This kid Dodger (Mackenzie Astin, younger half-brother of Sean) is, by far, the best actor in the movie. This is not a compliment.
- The fucking garbage can is constantly being referred to as a garbage PAIL. I mean, I get it, but UGH.
- Captain Manzini (Anthony Newley, RIP), Dodger's boss/avuncular friend, is also a ... magician? Lots of black magic in this movie. Which is fine(?), but seems totally anathema to, you know -- whimsical trading cards.
- First appearance of Tangerine (Katie Barberi), complete with neon turquoise skin-tight leopard dress. Too bad Juice (Ron MacLachlan) shows up to ruin their weird fun. Oh, he also ruins it by looking like a PUPPET himself.
- The bullies knock over the PAIL, and more green slime pours out. "An elephant blew its nose!" shouts the butch female thug. Then the would-be murderers pour toxic waste on Dodger in a sewer. Fine family fun!
- GPK reveal! They save the boy. And then scare him to death with their FACES.
- These are the ugliest creature designs I have ever seen. The mouths don't even move when they talk. And the eyelids move too much. Balance, people!
- "That pail be jail!" Words to live by.
- What's creepier? The shop owner giving Dodger -- a BOY -- a bubble bath, or all the GPKs standing around watching him bathe? This just. Got. Sexy.
- "We cannot choose the way we look, but we can choose the way we behave," and, "To be blessed with unusual features is a blessing!" The thesis of the film?
- The GPKs are going to help the boy get the lady/get laid.
- One of the GPKs (Greaser Greg?) steals a Pepsi truck (product placement?), and runs over Juice's car. Then all the GPKs eat too much and get hung over (food coma). Completely normal scary puppet stuff.
- Does this boy have any parents? What happened to Captain Manzini? I know -- shame on me for applying logic to this shit show.
- The GPKs dress the boy up like Michael Jackson (FASHION!) so he can woo Tangerine. She is BLOWN AWAY (in a good way, surprisingly) by his [horrible] taste. Reminds me of Lisa Turtle in Saved by the Bell -- she was the fashion plate, but only wore the WORST CLOTHES.
- FIRST MUSICAL NUMBER?!?! YES!!!
- Everyone sing it with me: "We can do anything by working with each other!"
- But what's the end game? Are Dodger and Tangerine going to hook up? Dodger looks like he's 12, and Tangerine, while not an old lady, definitely looks like a ripe teenager who's been around the block (with Juice!) a few times. She's got a slack vadge, is what I'm saying.
- Shocking IMDb-informed realization -- Dodger and Tangerine look YEARS apart in age, but are only, in fact, separated by 12 months. Still don't make it right.
- How much did they pay for the rights to a Three Stooges short? And why did they feel the need to "make it better" by adding a calliope version of "Three Blind Mice" underneath it?
- I was curious as to why only these seven GPKs (Greaser Greg, Ali Gator, Valerie Vomit, Foul Phil, Nat Nerd, Windy Winston and Messy Tessie) are featured in the movie -- there are hundreds of cards/crazy names. But then the movie answers that by stating that the other GPKs are in the "State Home for the Ugly." Again, totally normal.
- Security guards -- dog catchers for the ugly -- roam the streets netting ugly children. Almost too normal?
Breaking and entering
Causing a disturbance
Grand theft auto
Destruction of property (both public and private)
Cannibalism (assuming Ali Gator is "human")?
Farting in the face of innocents
Finally, why is it that movies like this have zero interest in exploring why these crazy monsters exist, or even how they got here? They're only interested in making the creatures help the human with some ridiculous, inane task (fashion design). A similar phenomenon happens in Zookeeper, which Patrick rips apart in his review. Basically, a Zookeeper discovers that animals can talk, and INSTANTLY gets them to help him score a date with an eight (at best). Duh! What else even is there to do with talking animals?! Zookeepers be horny!
I don't know what changes could've saved The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. Trust me: every idea you and I have would make the end product immeasurably better than this wet fart of a film. HOWEVER, I argue that it never should've been made in the first place. The world doesn't need this!
"Rats and thunder, wind and hail / Send the kids back in the pail!"
In the comment section, please continue to give us suggestions for future installments of "I'll Watch Anything." Thanks!