The Garbage Pail Kids Movie
Directed by Rod Amateau
Starring Mackenzie Astin, Anthony Newley, Katie Barberi, Ron MacLachlan
Released on August 22, 1987
Running time 1h 40m
Genre: Kids & Family, Comedy (you wish)
I have nothing. I have absolutely nothing. The title of this crapfest doesn’t help either.
A little history: The Garbage Pail Kids trading card series were very popular in the ’80s. Of course, it was an obvious parody of the Cabbage Patch Kids. But GPK was entirely different. They were hilariously gross, violent, and totally inappropriate. So, as you can imagine, they were a huge hit around young boys.
But then some numbnuts at MGM thought they could make a story out of them – story? If you can possibly call it that. I mean – wow.
Our story begins…IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN SPAAAAAAAAAAAAACE! No, really.
And guess what? Even the opening credits are wrong! The film does not credit the dwarves in the costumes of the GPKs or their voice actors in the opening credits. Instead it just shows us their trading cards. Okay, if I wanted to look at the trading cards, I’d just buy the freaking cards! And quickly sell them.
We transition to a space garbage pail flying through – okay, who wrote this? The director himself? Looks like we have a personal story here, folks! (Has the director done anything good? No? Well, that’s depressing.) I feel like this opening scene is where the movie’s $1 million budget went.
We all of a sudden cut to the thrift store owned by Captain Manzini (Anthony Newley). The garbage pail has somehow arrived there. We don’t actually see the GPKs as they run around in the store. They’re saving that up for the absolutely horrifying big reveal. Oh, and as the GPKs run around, the eyes on the several pictures on the walls follow them. Why? How? Never explained! And then we get this line from Manzini.
MANZINI: If I catch anyone…I’ll be very surprised.
We then abruptly cut to Dodger (Mackenzie Astin) as he runs away from, and is ambushed by, a group of thugs led by Juice (Ron MacLachlan, who is not related to Kyle MacLachlan of Blue Velvet and Showgirls fame). Really? Juice? That’s the bully’s – and eventually antagonist’s – name? …Now that’s just silly. Dodger is almost fifteen, and these bullies are easily in their mid to late twenties. Come on, you stupid thugs! Get a job! Don’t rely on – stealing Dodger’s lunch money and dumping him in a puddle of mud? What is wrong with these guys? Get a job! Get a life! This is elementary school playground bully crap! You guys probably have jobs! You probably have IDs and social security! This kid can call the cops! He can get you arrested and press charges! Assault and battery and theft! This will screw up the rest of your life!
Oh, wait. I forgot what movie I was watching. These characters do not exist in the realms of reality.
Anyways, back to the – no, don’t you dare call this a story!
Dodger returns to Manzini’s shop where he works. How convenient that he doesn’t have a family or school to report to. Anyways, he takes a bath in front of Manzini (creepy…)(you know, for kids!) while Manzini … uses magic to wash Dodger’s clothes. Brain cells drop like flies. After helping Manzini organize his shop, during which Manzini speaks entirely in motivational tape quotes, Dodger is warned to stay away from a shaking garbage pail. He is told to think of it as the equivalent of Pandora’s Box. But, of course, in the myth of Pandora’s Box, we all know what happens.
While Manzini is out, Juice’s girlfriend, Tangerine (Katie Barberi) – really? – shows up at Manzini’s shop and apologizes for earlier that day. Dodger smells her hair without her noticing. Awwww. How creepy.
Tangerine? Juice? These aren’t bullies. They’re a fruit salad.
Juice and his other two thugs show up, knock over the garbage pail which leaks green goo (why? how?), abduct Dodger, toss him in the sewer, and, in a stupid female empowerment bit, open a sewage pipe, spewing sewage all over him. The thugs leave Dodger to die, but he is saved by the GPKs, who reveal themselves.
They are horrifying. They’re horribly formed. Each has a set of dead eyes and lips that never close, and an annoying-while-nonexistent personality to match.
Manzini returns to the shop and is distressed that the GPKs are loose. We are then introduced to them. They are:
– Ali Gator, the established leader of the pack, is an alligator with a Mafia accent that can speak English, is dressed in PJs, and has
a fetish an appetite for human toes. Ew.
– Foul Phil, dressed like a baby, has halitosis, a whiny, husky voice, a high annoyance factor, is constantly hungry, and constantly asks if a character is his mommy or daddy.
– Greaser Greg, dressed in a leather jacket and sporting a Mafia accent, is a violent greaser who threatens people with a knife. You know, for kids! What’s youse Italianses gettings upsets aboutses?
– Messy Tessie, the most sane of the group, constantly has a stuffy, runny nose. This is the only GPK who I even come close to liking.
– Nat Nerd, who is obese, wears glasses and a superhero outfit, has terrible acne, and constantly wets his pants, much to the delight of no one.
– Valerie Vomit, sounding like she’s a stereotypical black mother, can vomit on command, or whenever the plot demands it.
– Windy Winston, who is insane, from Brooklyn, and wears a Hawaiian shirt, often farts violently.
What a pity that they neglected to put in the most popular character, Adam Bomb.
Manzini warns them against going in public, as they have to –
ALL KIDS: Stay away from the normies.
DODGER: What are “normies”?
GREASER GREG: They’re normal people.
MESSY TESSIE: We’ve got to hide from them.
ALI GATOR: Yeah, they think we’re ugly.
And they are 1000% correct. Anyone else can see that they are ugly as sin.
MANZINI: Ugliness is not in a mirror. Ugliness is cruelty. Meanness of spirit. Greed. To be blessed with unusual features…is an adventure.
MANZINI: [Aside to DODGER.] You think they bought it?
Apparently Manzini cannot return the GPKs to the pail without magic.
Oh, and get this: the GPKs, after not being able to find their other compatriots, think that their fellow GPKs are locked up somewhere. Where, you may ask?
FOUL PHIL: In a really terrible place!
WINDY WINSTON: In the State Home for the Ugly!
DODGER: State Home for the Ugly – I can’t believe that they would do something like that!
CAPT. MANZINI: I’m afraid so, dear boy.
“State Home for the Ugly”? Who does that? How can you think to throw “State Home for the Ugly” at us and expect us to believe that? What in heaven’s name was going through your head when you thought that up? Were you high on pot brownies and shrooms?
Okay! All bets are off! If you can’t even go halfway through the movie without insulting my intelligence, then…well, I’ll just finish the review.
Tangerine takes Dodger with her to help her sell her series of “exotic” clothes. And continuity is gang-raped and mutilated more than a Game of Thrones character in between two shots where it abruptly changes from day to night. They arrive at a dance club, where Tangerine sells the clothes. Dodger has an awkward experience when Tangerine removes her shirt to sell it, showing that her womanhood is severely lacking. You know, for kids! Dodger hides when Juice arrives and takes Tangerine away.
Dodger somehow gets back to Manzini’s shop. No, really. It was day when he and Tangerine left, and it was night at the dance club. How did Dodger get back so fast?
The GPKs steal a Pepsi truck, flatten Juice’s van, and then have a barrel fire in an alley and eat stolen food. You know, for kids!
The next morning, as the GPKs all experience hangovers (you know, for kids!), they give Dodger a Michael-Jackson-esque jacket that they have sewn – good golly gee willikers. Where would these abominations of nature learn how to sew? Anyways, Dodger takes it to Tangerine, who is impressed. Really? She asks Dodger to make more so she can sell them, all the while attempting to seduce him like Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate. You know, for kids!
While Dodger is at Tangerine’s, the GPKs just…hang around. They get bored, dress up in trench coats, sunglasses, and berets, and “go see a movie picture” at a theater that is showing Three Stooges shorts. Okay, how do those disguises work? And what theater shows Three Stooges shorts in the ’80s? Oh, and they get there using stolen ATVs. You know, for kids!
Greaser Greg and Ali Gator break off from the main group and go to a bar literally named “The Toughest Bar in the World”. They get into a fight. The bartender and other bouncers and bikers are impressed, and everyone celebrates with beers. You know, for kids! They’re Garbage Pail KIDS, so they’re obviously underage! I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I’d guess that these things aren’t even 18, let alone 21.
The GPKs and Dodger return to the shop. Dodger convinces the GPKs to make more clothes. When Dodger leaves, this happens: the GPKs break out into a song about working together.
ALL KIDS: WE CAN DO ANYTHING BY WORKING WITH EACH OTHER!
This song is terrible. Absolutely horrendous.
And what is so strange about this song is that they sing about working together while breaking into a store and stealing sewing equipment. I wish I was making that up. Oh, I almost forgot – you know, for kids!
That Friday, the clothes are made and Tangerine’s business is a success. When she drops Dodger off at Manzini’s, she turns and leans toward Dodger and … nibbles his ear? You know, for kids! Okay, if they have sex, I’m outta here. They don’t, but the scene is reeeaaally creepy. Dodger shows Tangerine his GPK secret. Tangerine is originally miffed, but accepting.
However, Tangerine still loves Juice, and, in a really stupid scheme, gets Dodger out of the shop and incapacitates Manzini, and gets the GPKs sent to the State Home for the Ugly. Uh, Tangerine? You do realize that the GPKs are 100% responsible for your success.
Anyways, Tangerine – who has apparently become very well known in the fashion world now, despite the fact that she dresses like a birthday present, will be hosting a fashion show, and will attempt to pass GPK designs as her own.
While Dodger and Manzini formulate a plan to free the GPKs, we get a glimpse into SHftU operations. They go around and catch ugly people with nets as if they’re animals. They have imprisoned Santa Claus for being Too Fat, Mahatma Gandhi for being Too Bald, Abraham Lincoln for being Too Skinny, and the GPKs for being Too Gross. And not only do they imprison ugly people, but they also kill them by squishing them in something, presumably a trash compactor. They are trying way too hard to get us to hate them. I know that the film has been incredibly lazy so far, but this actually doesn’t feel lazy enough. Try wrapping your head around that.
Another thing: there is a State Home for the Ugly, but Michael Moore, Rosie O’Donnell, Michelle Obama, Trevor Noah, and Carrot Top are allowed to run free? Another thing: I know the Reagan years weren’t perfect, but I cannot, in any possible way, see him signing off on this. So…was this an attempted jab at Reaganomics? Sesame Street has been brought to you by the letters W, T, and F, and the number 666. Sigh.
Dodger and Manzini go to tTBitW and rally the bikers in about five seconds. They go to the SHftU and break out everyone. Dodger, Manzini, and the GPKs then go to and crash Tangerine’s fashion show. And how do they do this? Windy Winston, Messy Tessie, and Valerie Vomit fart, sneeze, and puke all over everyone, Ali Gator bites off peoples’ toes, and the rest of them RIP THE CLOTHES OFF THE FASHION MODELS, REVEALING THEIR NEARLY NAKED BODIES. You know, for kids! Meanwhile, Dodger gets into the final fight with Juice. Dodger defeats Juice before being pulled off of him by Manzini. And in Juice’s case, either result of the fight wouldn’t have ended well for him. “You’re beating up the 12-year-old? You’re a douche and a bully.” “You’re getting beat up by the 12-year-old? You’re a pussy.”
The group returns to Manzini’s, and after Dodger rebuffs an apologetic Tangerine, Manzini attempts to return the GPKs to the pail by singing “You can be a Garbage Pail Kid” backwards. The attempt fails, and the GPKs ride out into the night on their stolen ATVs. Dodger and Manzini are totally fine with the result.
The story is sloppy, it’s disjointed, it’s half-hearted, and insulting.
The characters are stereotypes. They are annoying. They are one-dimensional cardboard cutouts. They are insulting. Dodger’s a pissy pussy who shows no signs of strength. Manzini is too busy talking to be of any worth, and the GPKs are just evil and hateful.
The acting is clearly talentless and effortless.
The message of this movie, I think, is to show that there is no such thing as ugliness in the world, no matter what’s on the outside.
This movie has singlehandedly convinced me that there is horrible, evil ugliness in the world and it is all compiled into this movie.
I feel violated. I feel like I’ve been sodomized, castrated, crucified, and immolated by this movie.
But the worst thing about this travesty is this: it’s for kids. Kids. The youth of America. Kids that are young, impressionable, developing. This is what they could be exposed to?
Yes. This is Rod Amateau’s idea on child-friendly material.
Believe it or not, there were actually a series of protests that got the movie pulled out of theaters. These protests also stopped the first season of a TV show in its tracks.
However, there is one teeny tiny saving grace to this movie. Mackenzie Astin and Anthony Newley give surprisingly good performances as Dodger and Manzini respectively. They undoubtedly have talent. They just don’t have enough talent to survive poor direction. The thing is, very few actors do. That’s what turned Cillian Murphy into a boring emo in Sunshine. That’s what turned James McAvoy and Emily Blunt into bland, bumbling doofuses in Gnomeo and Juliet. That’s what turned Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, and Samuel L. Jackson into boring crapheads in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
Astin and Newley had talent.
But it wasn’t enough to save this movie.
Final verdict: 0 out of 5 stars.