The Garbage Pail Kids were originally a series of sticker trading cards that were created to parody / cash in on the then popular Cabbage Patch Dolls. Designed by Art Spiegelman, Mark Newgarden and John Poun, and if you’ve heard of Art Spiegelman before it’s probably because he wrote and drew the acclaimed graphic novel Maus, which heartbreakingly portrayed his father’s recollections of the second World War and the holocaust.
Despite the subject matter being utterly different it’s in some ways disappointing Spiegelman wasn’t involved in the making of the film of the Garbage Pail Kids as then it might not have been such an incredibly misjudged and bizarre effort and could have had characters who weren’t mostly appalling. Of course the Garbage Pail Kids were supposed to be disgusting, that’s the whole point of them, but that doesn’t explain why the film is so agonisingly unfunny and irritating, and tiresomely repetitive when it comes to it’s gross out humour.
The movie revolves around Dodger (Mackenzie Astin, now being particularly great in The Magicians), a sweet if slightly pervy fourteen year old who works in a strange antiques store that comes complete with a dustbin full of mysterious creatures. He’s told by Anthony Newley (in what tragically turned out to be his last role) to never go near the bin, so of course seconds later he gets in a fight over Tangerine (Katie Barberi), who is Juice (Ron MacLachlan) the local psychopath’s girlfriend, and the garbage pail bastards are unleashed upon the world. And then Dodger gets dumped in to a sewer and covered in animal shit, because that’s the kind of tacky film this is.
After that we’re quickly introduced to the Garbage Pail Kids and lordy, it turns out that nearly all are vying to be the most irritating life form ever created, and it’s a competition they effortlessly win. It should have been fairly easy to make these gross characters funny given their nature but the all kinds of horrible script fails to make them amusing, it seems to think characters farting and pissing all the time is hilarious, which in certain contexts could be possible, but boy is it not here.
Despite regular beatings Dodger refuses to give up stalking Tangerine, who admittedly encourages / grooms him , and soon they’re selling clothes outside of a nightclub, just like everyone was doing back in the eighties. Despite otherwise being quite shit and mean the Garbage Pail Kid’s somewhat inexplicably start making clothes for Dodge so that Tangerine can sell them, which makes no real sense as the rest of the time they’re being all kinds of twattish, including painful scenes with them annoying everyone in a cinema while Ali Gator eats toes in a bikers bar. There’s also a subplot about them ending up in the State Home for Ugly Children, but bar a cameo from Weird Al Yankovich that’s as unfunny as the rest of the movie and not worth dwelling on.
The film ends with the Garbage Pail Kid’s sexually assaulting a bunch of models at Tangerine’s fashion show, ripping off their clothes so that they’re only in their underwear, and then chasing them around while Dodge beats the shit out of Juice before walking off crying and sobbing “It’s not worth it” over and over again. It’s a scene which feels like a mixture of Benny Hill and David Lynch and if intentional this would be a compliment, but that clearly isn’t the case here and the fact that it was made in the eighties is no excuse for the horrendous sexism on display.
To be fair Astin and Newley make a decent fist at turning in likeable performances, and there is a tiny amount of fun to be had if you’re in the mood to mock a film which would be flattered by the description “One of the worst movies ever made”. But even that becomes boring after about thirty minutes and the following hour is a real struggle as it’s childish sense of humour fails to illicit even the smallest of smiles, and it’s an experience that you may well cause anyone who watches it to end up begging a psychiatrist to help them forget they ever saw it.