GarbagePailKidsMovieYes, this is it: the 1987 Hollywood flop based on the Garbage Pail Kids stickers from the eighties.  Ostensibly a family film, it’s actually a gross, slimy, colossally inept spectacle suitable ONLY for die-hard eighties nostalgists.

Those who (like me) came of age in the late eighties should have no trouble remembering The Garbage Pail Kids series of Topps stickers, inducted in 1986, which came in packets of 3-4 cards along with a stick of chewing gum.  A sick joke on the popular Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, the GPKs were freakish, deformed creatures with names like Disgustin’ Justin, Joe Blow, Greaser Greg and Valerie Vomit.

The Garbage Pail Kids were a huge hit with kiddies and drew just as much ire from moral watchdog groups, which only increased their popularity.  A movie, headlined by the veteran English actor/singer Anthony Newley and C-list teen heartthrob Mackenzie Austin (then a regular on THE FACTS OF LIFE), was immediately put into production by the now defunct Atlantic Entertainment Group.  Unfortunately for us, this was what resulted.

Dodger, a skinny dork, works for the “magical” Cap’n Mancini, an antique storeowner with a suspicious garbage pail in his basement.  When Dodger accidentally overturns the pail, a greenish goo oozes out which formulates itself into seven Garbage Pail Kids (actually dwarfs in trashy costumes): Valerie Vomit, Ali Gator, Greaser Greg, Nat Nerd, Windy Winston, Messy Tessie and Foul Phil, all named after their various afflictions.

It seems that Dodger has a thing for Tangerine, a frizzy-haired hottie who makes and sells clothes for a living, but has NO interest in him; her boyfriend is a psycho who wears too much eye makeup and spends his days beating Dodger up.  But when the Garbage Pail Kids design a Napoleon suit for Dodger to wear that’s supposed to make him look cool (it doesn’t), Tangerine suddenly sees Dodger in a different light.  In an example of eighties-think at its most corrosive, she presses him into service making clothes for her by coming onto him, and he cracks the whip on his “friends” the Garbage Pail Kids to produce clothing.

It all comes down to a fashion show run by corrupt snobs.  In the meantime the GPKs escape from the confines of the Cap’n’s basement, terrorize a bar and movie theater, and eventually get themselves locked in a cage at a zoo for ugly people, with the label “TOO GROSS” plastered across the bars.  Not to worry, though, because Dodger has solicited the help of a gang of bikers who break ëem out, allowing the GPKs to crash the fashion show and deal with its corrupt patrons in various uncouth ways: Windy Winston farts into the crowd, Valerie Vomit pukes on one of them, etc.

The man responsible for this mess was the veteran TV director Rod Amateau, who also produced and co-wrote the script.  Despite his roots in 50’s television, Amateau managed to craft a film that was nothing if not trendy: the cheesy lighting and even cheesier synthesizer music are quintessentially eighties elements, and go well with the “hip” clothing and hair.

Far less enchanting are the indifferent acting, third grade humor and complete lack of forward momentum (the climactic breakout has all the nail biting suspense of THE HOURS played in slow motion)…and Amateau furthermore never misses a chance for gratuitous farting, nose picking or puking.

Then again, though, we’d be insane to expect too much from this film—it is THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS MOVIE!

Vital Statistics

Atlantic Releasing Group

Director: Rod Amateau
Producer: Rod Amateau
Screenplay: Melinda Palmer, Rod Amateau
Cinematography: Harvey Genkins
Editor: Leon Carrere, M. Edward Salier
Cast: Anthony Newley, Mackenzie Astin, Katie Barberi, Ron MacLachlan, J.P. Amateau, Marjory Graue, Debbie Lee Carrington, Kevin Thompson, Phil Fondacaro, Larry Green, Arturo Gil, Susan Rossitto, Bobby Bell, Chloe Amateau, Jim Cummings, Teri Benaron