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Case Number 07307: Small Claims Court

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The Garbage Pail Kids Movie

MGM // 1987 // 97 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // July 29th, 2005

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All Rise...

Judge Patrick Naugle has found a rare gem: an Anthony Newley film whose most annoying element isn't Anthony Newley.

The Charge

Out of the garbage pail and into your heart!

The Case

Captain Mancini (Anthony Newley, Doctor Dolittle) is the owner of an antiques store/magic shop in the heart of some unnamed city. Young Dodger (Mackenzie Astin, The Last Days of Disco) is one of his employees, though he treats him more like a son. Captain Mancini's store is filled with all kinds of weird things, but none stranger than a disgusting garbage can that houses a vile secret: The Garbage Pail Kids. When a few bullies picking on Dodger accidentally knock the can over and release the kids into the real world, all snot breaks loose. The kids—including Ali Gator, Windy Winston, Foul Phil, Messy Tessie, Nat Nerd, Valerie Vomit, and Greaser Greg—display bad attitudes and even worse bodily functions. Dodger strikes up a friendship with the gross but apparently lovable Kids while Captain Mancini attempts to find a magic spell that will get the Kids back into their mystical garbage pail. But can Dodger and Mancini keep The Garbage Pail Kids from being captured and placed into the dreaded State Home For The Ugly?

If the 1980s taught us anything—besides not to wager that Flock of Seagulls will be around longer than U2—it's that bubble gum cards should never be turned into major motion pictures. Case-in-point: The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. In the mid-1980s The Garbage Pail Kids trading cards series were a bona fide phenomenon: kids loved the gross-out humor and anti-cuteness (they were, if you're not aware, a parody of the Cabbage Patch Kids doll craze). In 1987 some movie producer decided that the kids needed to get off the cards and onto a movie screen. Thusly, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie was born.

It should have been an abortion.

Shoddily made and thrown together does not adequately describe this celluloid turd. The movie has grown into cult status, but I can't imagine anyone enjoying it—there isn't enough camp value to make it fun, and the storyline and dialogue is straight out of the scribbling of a sixth grader's notebook. The film is filled with poorly conceived replicas of the Garbage Pail Kids in flesh and blood (and lots of cheap latex with rigidly moving mouths that don't match the voices). The little monsters were creepy enough on paper; but put them into rubber suits and they're downright nasty-looking knockoffs of Chucky from the Child's Play series.

Directed by Rod Amateau (who helmed the television classic High School U.S.A.) with all the subtlety of a blow to the head with a four-hundred-pound anvil, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie is filled with jokes involving farting, pimples, urination, snot, mucus, vomit, and other stuff that kids normally find funny. Yet in the context of this film it falls flatter than, well, a garbage can lid. Any '80s nostalgia the film holds vanishes approximately three seconds after the Garbage Pail Kids appear on-screen. Much of the humor borders on inappropriate; in one tasteless scene two of the Kids come out from under a cabinet, the female angrily complaining that the male's 'doctor's exam' is over. Uh huh. I'll let you fill in the missing blanks.

I know this is going to be hard to believe but every single actor looks embarrassed to be a part of this tragedy. Mackenzie Astin, at the time a star due to his success on The Facts of Life (which looks like an intellectual think-tank by comparison), appears almost dazed and confused whenever he's in the same room as the Kids. Then again, I'd be dazed and confused if I had to be around these nightmarish things. The late Anthony Newley must have shuffled around the stage muttering, "And to think, I once starred in Oliver Twist."

Listen, I like crap as much as the next guy. What I don't like is when the movie can't even rise above its own limitations to be counted as entertainment. If you're going to be a crappy movie, at least be an entertainingly crappy movie. The Garbage Pail Kids Movie doesn't even come close.

The Garbage Pail Kids Movie is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is in only fair shape—there are many blemishes and imperfections throughout the film. The colors are only so-so and the blacks aren't as solid as most DVD transfers. In other words, this transfer looks like what the movie is: cheap.

The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono in English. There is little to report about this sound mix—it's front heavy without any surrounds or directional effects. The dialogue, cheesy synthesizer music, and gross-out effects are all well heard (unfortunately). Also included on this disc are English, Spanish, and French subtitles.

The Garbage Pail Kids Movie has a single extra feature: a widescreen theatrical trailer for the film.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 40

Perp Profile

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1987
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
• Bad
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailer


• IMDb
• The Garbage Pail Kids Archive

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