Bad Movie Review (Extra Life 2018) – The Garbage Pail Kids Movie
The Bad Movie Review series of posts are a set of posts written as the result of meeting a $1,200 stretch goal for Extra Life, an annual 24-hour video gaming charity marathon event that benefits children’s hospitals.
Throughout this series of reviews, I’ve tried to be optimistic about a ton of these films. Surely there were some redeeming qualities or gems within the awfulness that have been some of the worst movies I’ve seen. In some, like the Michael Bolton Christmas special, I did find a few parts where I actually might have enjoyed myself for a few seconds.
This was not the case with The Garbage Pail Kids movie. One of the few movies to sit at a consistent 0% at Rotten Tomatoes and with a bottom-feeding score of 1.9/10, this was…well, garbage. Like some of the others in this list of movies I’ve had to review, the film is pure 80’s – campy action, over-the-top good vs. evil plot, and a triumph over bullies storyline (see: Revenge of the Nerds, Porky’s, etc.). But unlike its companions, there just isn’t much here to serve as a saving grace. Maybe part of it is the fact that the entire movie is based on a mildly popular set of trading cards that served as the 80’s version of South Park in cardboard form, with gross-out characters depicted in twisted caricatures.
It’s not like this isn’t the first movie from this era that offers characters that aren’t quite human and who might be alien. But unlike the Gremlins or E.T., or any of those films, there’s just not much charming, even in their grossness, for the Garbage Pail Kids characters. One vomits on command, another is a constant farter, yet another has bad breath, and one unfortunate stereotype from the 80s, the acne-ridden comic-loving nerd, tops the list. I get that part of the driving plot of the film is how the sickening qualities of the Garbage Pail Kids ruin things that are nice or otherwise neat in presentation (in this case, it’s a fashion show, a nightclub, and other such scenarios) but there’s also no real depth to the titular characters, even by 80’s movie standards. It’s never explained how they’re aliens and how they are somehow accepted by their sometime caretaker Captain Manzini, never really have much motivation other than to be highly visible and highly disgusting, and are really only able to charm people by virtue of how blatantly terrible they behave, as if no one can quite believe what they’re seeing, smelling, and touching. The movie meanders from one “get the better of the bullies” scenario to another and even though it does take a bit of a different tack by not having the hero get the girl at the end, that’s the only thing that can be considered as innovative.
Maybe I’m being harsher on this movie because by today’s standards, seeing some of the stuff on here that is treated as silly is actually a serious issue. The fat nerd stereotype is one such thing but only the tip of the iceberg. The kids are at one point sent off to a state-run home for the ugly, where people who are too fat, too bald, too skinny and the like are sent. The absurdity that such a place exists takes some of the edge off, but the very bleak idea that it’s only acceptable to be just right and not expect anything to be different or strange or odd (and that the implication that you are means you should be isolated and shamed) is very real and present, serving as a bit of a sobering thought that this was a different time, and that despite that, those issues might even persist into today. For now, it’s important to remember that this movie was terrible, if for nothing else for the fact that it fails to make its protagonists any more than their namesake.