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Rod Amateau
Mackenzie Astin, Anthony Newley, Katie Barberi
Writing Credits:
Melinda Palmer and Rod Amateau

Dogger must confront the struggles of life as he is visited by the Garbage Pail Kids and intimidated by some older bullies.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $34.93
Release Date: 12/8/2015

• “The Effects of The Garbage Pail Kids Movie” Featurette
• Interview with Assistant Director Thomas Irvine
• Interview with Actor Mackenzie Astin
• Interview with the Garbage Pail Kids
• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Garbage Pail Kids Movie [Blu-Ray] (1987)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 17, 2015)

Back in the early 1980s, the “Cabbage Patch Kids” dolls turned into an enormous success. To this day, when a toy inspires shopping mania around Christmas, news articles remind us of the near-riots that came with the parental pursuit of the Cabbage Patch Kids circa 1983.

In the face of this, a trading card set called the “Garbage Pail Kids” emerged to parody the Cabbage Patch craze. Reminiscent of the “Wacky Packages” cards I bought as a kid in the 70s, these substituted the adorable cherubs of the Cabbage Patch world with disgusting, deformed children.

The cards did so well that they spawned a short-lived TV series as well as a feature film. The Garbage Pail Kids Movie hit screens in the summer of 1987 and flopped. The flick received brutally bad reviews and fizzled at the box office.

And yet the good folks at Shout! Factory decided there was an audience for a “Collector’s Edition” Blu-ray! I never saw Pail back in the 1980s, but armed with a copy of the legendarily bad movie, how could I resist?

Dodger (Mackenzie Astin) gets bullied by older thugs but seeks refuge in his work at Captain Manzini’s (Anthony Newley) antique store. Manzini maintains one rule: Dodger can’t touch a curious trashcan.

Eventually the can gets dislodged and reveals its inhabitants: bizarre little people called the Garbage Pail Kids. They help him solve various problems and try to get the girl, too.

Let me see if I get this straight: Captain Manzini desperately wants to keep the Kids stuck inside their garbage pail. So why does he keep this trashcan smack in the middle of his cramped, cluttered store? And then why does he move the can to a rickety shelf where it could easily fall? Heck, why does Manzini retain the can at all?

Great questions, but don’t expect any logic from the absurd and ridiculous Kids. Why does Juice (Ron MacLachlan) torment Dodger? It’s clear that the kid has no money, and it’s also obvious Dodger is a lot younger than Juice and his gang. Why would they bother with such small fish? How did the Kids learn to be such capable fashion designers? Where is this world where people are named “Dodger”, “Juice” and “Tangerine”, too?

More unanswered questions, but these avoid the most important topic of all: what moron put this atrocity into production? I’ve always regarded 1988’s Mac and Me as the worst film of its era – or at minimum the crummiest flick aimed at the so-called “family audience”. That said, at least Mac offered entertainment due to its relentless cheesiness and tackiness – it’s the veritable definition of “so bad it’s good” filmmaking.

Kids doesn’t have that going for it – it’s simply awful without even the redeeming value of some enjoyable cheese. Nothing about it amuses or entertains in any possible way.

Instead, we’re left with more of those nagging questions. The movie never attempts any kind of real “origin story” for the Kids. Sure, we see a trash can-shaped space vehicle at the start, but that’s all we get in terms of an explanation.

Who are the Kids? What brought them here? How did they end up with Manzini? Why does he hide them? And why does the story itself completely ignore any possible extraterrestrial roots and just treat the Kids like ugly urchins? Why offer the notion they’re from another planet and then act as though they’re deformed humans? Why is there an anthopomorphic alligator in there, too?

All of these lead back to the question I asked earlier: why did this movie get made? I guess I can understand it as a crass cash-in maneuver to capitalize on the success of the trading cards, but you’d think someone might’ve at least attempted to make a coherent movie.

Maybe they did. Kids does try to give us a “looks don’t matter and what’s inside is important” theme, but it fails to embrace that in any logical manner.

Instead, we find a random collection of gross-out gags mixed with odd character moments – and even a completely out of nowhere musical number. Kids feels like a bunch of movie shots plopped into a blender – it never makes sense and doesn’t feel like anyone tried to create something coherent.

Nothing about the film succeeds. Even the effects seem cheap and tacky. The Garbage Pail Kids themselves are little more than little people with nearly immobile fake heads. The animatronics seem truly awful – better work wouldn’t have saved the film, but the terrible execution of the Kids makes a bad flick even worse.

Kids isn’t even weird enough to stand out from the crowd. Maybe if the flick turned into something surreal, it’d be interesting, but given its tepid aspirations to be a “feel good” message movie for kids, it doesn’t even take advantage of its inherent bizarreness.

Cheap, crass and pointless, The Garbage Pail Kids deserves its poor reputation. It offers zero entertainment value.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C/ Audio C/ Bonus C

The Garbage Pail Kids Movie appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Consistently inconsistent, this became an erratic presentation.

Sharpness varied a fair amount. Much of the film showed reasonable accuracy; I’d never call it razor-sharp, but it usually offered good delineation. Sporadic soft shots popped up, though.

No issues with shimmering or jaggies occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. The movie looked rather grainy at times, and semi-frequent specks, marks and debris could be seen; these didn’t dominate but the movie could’ve used a good cleaning.

Colors seemed acceptable. Kids provided a natural palette that never favored any particular tones. The hues lacked much pop but they appeared passable overall. Blacks were moderately inky, and low-light shots tended to appear somewhat dense, though some of those moments – such as the Kids at a campfire – demonstrated reasonable clarity. The transfer seemed completely mediocre.

As for the movie’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, it also seemed average for its age. Speech appeared a little reedy and thin, but the lines showed good intelligibility and lacked overt flaws. Music demonstrated limited range as well, but the cheesy synthesizer score was clear enough and showed moderate pep.

Effects fell into the same range. The track didn’t ask for much, and the elements sounded decent; they could be somewhat flat but they showed no distortion and represented the material well enough. All of this left us with a “C” soundtrack.

When we shift to extras, we open with The Effects of The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. It runs 11 minutes, 46 seconds and features effects/designer supervisor John Carl Buechler and special effects artist Gino Crognale. They discuss their work on the film and some general thoughts about the project. While not a deep program, “Effects” offers decent insights.

Three interviews follow. In the first, we get a six-minute, 22-second piece with assistant director Thomas Irvine. He chats about his experiences during the shoot and aspects of his work. Irvine provides a smattering of interesting thoughts.

Next we locate a 27-minute, 16-second discussion with actor Mackenzie Astin. He covers how he came onto the project as well as memories of his co-workers and the film shoot. Astin provides a perky presence and gives us a fun look back at his experiences. His references to “the business of show” grow annoying, though – just call it “show business” like a normal person!

In addition to the film’s trailer, we finish with an interview with the Garbage Pail Kids. This lasts 21 minutes, 21 seconds and features actors Arturo “Windy Winston” Gil and Kevin “Ali Gator” Thompson. They talk about the challenges of working within animatronic costumes and other elements of the production. We don’t often hear from performers stuck in those costumes, so this becomes a nice change to learn more about their side of things. I’m still in shock that Thompson compares Kids to Citizen Kane - and actually appears to be serious.

A bizarre melange of genres, The Garbage Pail Kids ends up as an incoherent, idiotic piece of nonsense. The movie never makes sense and never vaguely threatens to become interesting, not even in a “so bad it’s good” way. The Blu-ray brings us mediocre picture and audio along with a smattering of decent supplements. I guess someone likes this movie, but I can’t figure out why.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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