The Garbage Pail Kids Movie

If you spend any time around stand up comedy you're going to see a few acts that try to walk the line between being offensive and being clever. When it works, it's fine, but when it doesn't, it's the worst; if it's just something mean dressed up as a joke, it's even more obnoxious than mere meanness because it's pretending to be something else. There was a brief period a few years ago where I kept accidentally seeing a guy who wanted to be funny in an edgy way, but he was artless about it, so most of what he said just seemed crass. His "ironic" racism was basically just racism - bringing up a stereotype without putting into any sort of reasonable context, or saying a racial epithet merely because it was shocking to do so. If he was talking about someone who was gay he would make an AIDS "joke". He was so original that he referred to vegetables as "rabbit food" and condescended to the people who ate them. Basically, he was hateful about everything, even stuff (like lettuce) that it didn't make sense to hate. But I can't seem myself ever arguing with him what he was saying. He was saying these things because he knew they were wrong to say, so I wasn't going to educate him if I pointed out that he was being an asshole, and I didn't really want to work with him to be more artful about his obnoxiousness. He was clearly trying to be hated, and being the sort of person that was cursed with the need to alienate everyone around him already seemed like punishment enough.

I was thinking of that guy a lot during the Garbage Pail Kids movie. It is a "comedy" whose sense of humor is relentlessly dire. One character does nothing but fart; another is defined by her constantly snotty nose; another wets himself every time he's on screen. Basically, every bodily fluid other than ejaculate is present in this movie, and I suspect that the only reason why that was left aside was because this is a "kids" movie. The fact that this was probably toned down so it could be sold to children might be the ugliest aspect of this abomination: if it had gone full on into outsider art instead of being stuck in a no-man's land of ill advised commercial considerations it might have actually managed to be transgressive, instead of merely being pointlessly juvenile. But no; even though everything here is ugly, from the puppets that look like they are in blackface to the multiple scenes that involve sewage, none of it actually has the urgency of true perversion. This isn't R. Crumb peering into the darker parts of his pysche; this is cynical pandering to an audience that's supposed to be enamored of poop jokes.

The reason why that would-be comedian is relevant here is not just that he's crass, it's that he's crass in a boring way. The Garbage Pail Kids Movie has the same problem: there are other bad movies with some reason to like them ironically, but this is just an utter flop. The puppets in Mac and Me are also poorly made horror-shows, but they are so inexplicably weird you can't believe you're looking at them, while the god-awful puppets here are just doll heads that came out terribly. For better or worse, when you watch Plan 9 From Outer Space you get a sense of who Ed Wood is and that human connection means it has something to offer. But there's nothing human in the Garbage Pail Kids movie; this is just a string of dumb jokes that got pushed too far. There isn't a single frame of this movie which feels competent and the incompetence doesn't have enough heart to be charming.

Years ago I probably would have written a really caustic review of this movie, but at this point in my life it doesn't seem like it's worth the effort. Yes, I could hunt for the perfect metaphor to describe how creepy these puppets are, or I could write an elaborate deconstruction of the chain of events that led to such a colossal mistake being released. But I don't really see the point of engaging with this movie to the degree that those would require. This movie has already been lambasted and forgotten, passed over even by the list of the worst movies of all time. I suppose I could kick it while it was down, but what's the point? This movie started and finished it's life in a garbage pail and that's what it deserves.

Winner: The Cat

The Garbage Pail Kids Movie on IMDB