Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Do I dare?

I do.

Everybody knows 'BMX Bandits' (Or, 'Le Gang des BMX,' as it's AWESOMELY known in France) was Nicole Kidman's first film in the early 80s, and if you don't, then either you don't play enough Trivial Pursuit Entertainment Edition or you don't care enough about stupid shit that has zero relevance to humanity. Since I definitely care about the latter, let's discuss!

Now, when I was a kid BMX was not really The One. Skateboarding was what all the cool guys did. The guys who rode BMX were primed to grow up into hesher assclowns, unlike the skateboarders, who grew up into stoners or financial advisors. I was always a little scared of the BMX guys. In Australia, though, it appears that BMX guys (and girl) are not only cool, they have style (do not argue with me on that) AND they are skilled in outsmarting bad guys three times their age!

I want to say right off the bat that even though Nicole Kidman probably didn't know what she was doing that you can tell throughout this film she's doing the best she can. You can also tell she's talented, or, at least, she's going to become talented. You can ALSO tell she's going to become a plastic surgery addict and Botox hag, because while some might think her face in these early days had a lot of character in a cute fresh Raggedy Ann kinda way, others, including herself, clearly did not, as she now looks like an injection-molded albino salamander in a busted Lindsay Lohan wig.

And...so it goes in Hollywood.

So this is a movie about some kids stealing walkie talkies and hooligans chasing them. The fact that walkie-talkies are central to the "plot" kind of tells you everything you need to know. I mean, usually Gettin' It Together (TM) movies from the 80s have some kind of emotional core, like Saving Grandpa's Farm or Helping The Underdog Get Hot, but these selfish brats just want to build a skate park where they can ride their bikes, get high and give each other handjobs (sorry, I just watched 'Rushmore.').  The bigger thing here is how beautifully this movie captures the Vegemite-esque culture of early 80s Australia. Thanks to the cinematographer, the dude who also shot 'Witness' (!) and 'The English Patient' (!) (I guess everybody's gotta start somewhere), there are many loving shots of Australia that give us a wondrous sense of the glory of that magnificent land down under. There's lots of shots of the sparkling ocean, lots of pink, pastel blue and yellow, and weird things that feel almost like normal things, but they're Australian (Note that I keep saying 'Australia' because although it is a large continent, I have no idea where in Australia this story actually takes place).

We start off watching two kids jammin' along the Australian seashore. They are dressed to match their bikes, which is a solid fashion choice, and are wearing weird Hannibal Lecter face masks, which is a poor fashion choice. Every time one of the kids pulls a trick move on his bike there is a sound effect like a door opening on the Starship Enterprise. Are these magical BMX bikers? Unclear.

Then a van driven by some hooligans busts through the plate window of a bank and the hooligans rob it. The cops hop on it right away. The Australian part of this is that the police station is painted bright blue and yellow with red accents, like a daycare center. Then there's some action in the street, which gives us a nice perspective on the Australianness of everything else:

Example A: all the cars are wrong
Example B: the bikers ride past a t-shirt shop called 'Noo Zoo: Animal Zoo Corner'
Example C: a cop calls the BMX bikes 'push bikes'
Example D: there are some hijinks involving lowbrow sex jokes that Benny Hill, who was not Australian but may as well have been, would have been proud of: a mannequin is flung onto a bewildered priest in a position simulating cunnilingus, and a girl bends over so her asscheeks hang out below her skirt

The above is just a random picture I pulled off the internet to reinforce my statements about Australia being weird.

The two biker guys swap quips (I LOVE QUIPS) and run into Nicole at the Australian version of the Peach Pit. The sincere one is named PJ, which is a name best suited to a high school varsity wrestler who gets the student government treasurer pregnant, and the sarcastic one is named Goose, which is a Christmas Miracle.

If I'd've been in charge of this movie, the rest of it would have been Nicole, Goose and PJ hanging out at the Peach Pit, with occasional musical stylings from Men at Work, but unfortunately I was not. I would even have been satisfied if the actual Goose had showed up and both Geese had a BMX bike-off with the ownership of the Peach Pit at stake. When the bike-off resulted in a tie, the Geese would shake on it and turn the Peach Pit over to the crusty short-order cook who's worked there for decades, played by Crocodile Dundee. Then there would be a big dance number while special guest star Olivia Newton John sang 'Xanadu.'

Instead, the BMX kids find a bunch of walkie talkies and gank them out from under the hooligans. They go around selling the walkie talkies to their friends, including the requisite gender-neutral fat kid (who's actually credited as 'Fat Kid', which must have gone a long way as a career move) wearing a visor hat with solar cells on it. This is a prescient costuming choice, as the hole in the ozone layer will eventually position itself over Australia!

The hooligans end up chasing the bikers into a gargantuan cemetery, which precipitates about 75 minutes of 'chasing', 'hiding,' and spooky music reminiscent of this:

Nicole hooks up with Goose after they fall into an open grave full of rats (!?), which is a story that actor probably recounts frequently down at the pub to the other bored drunks. Nicole rebuffs him, prompting him to describe himself, curiously, as "Zombie of the Year." It turns out that everybody's listening in on the walkie talkies, which includes the cops, who are sitting around getting hot and bothered by all the dirty flirting, but most importantly PJ, setting up a vague romantic conflict which goes absolutely nowhere despite the fact that both of these twerps should clearly want to tap that.

The BMX kids get the matching outfits conveniently labeling them as criminals and Nicole's stunt double does a bunch of bike stunts which get the boys horny. Good for her! And look at her helmet! SO AMAZING. I've hunted, but nobody is making replicas of these shirts. Somebody at Zazzle hurry the fuck up and get on that!

Nicole says, "Two's company, three gets us talked about," which insinuates that at some point she is going to fuck both of those guys at the same time. Oh, Australia! Land of threesomes and koalas! Even more alarmingly, when the hooligans corner Nicole by herself, they insinuate they want to assault and rape her in order to find out where the god damned walkie talkies are. What the WHAT! In Australia, apparently this is the modus operandi:

Because zero fucks are given Down Under, this subsequently happens:

1. A car blows up
2. A building is ripped apart by a tractor
3. The fat kid takes it in the face with a mattress while BMXing at full speed
4. Nicole escapes the clutches of one hooligan while the other hooligan is taking a shit

The BMX bandits together foil the hooligans by throwing them into the harbor, where those poor bastards flounder about in very real terror of being eaten by a shark. Remember, Australia, where every single living organism wants to kill you through some nightmarish means!

Because 'getting away' in a movie like this has to involve as many shenanigans as possible, the bikers then spend the next 75 minutes escaping in a waterslide. This actually looks cool, as waterslides in Australia appear to be clean and sparkly and full of lush tropical plants, unlike here in America, where every time I went to Raging Waters or wherever as a kid I had a vague feeling I was getting a mouthful of fecal matter, tapeworms and giardia every time I went down the slide. The bandits and their push bikes also ride through a mall, the most normal-looking location in the movie, and the cunnilingus-loving priest makes another appearance, whereupon the hooligans make a quick homophobic joke at his expense for some other unknown, possibly Australian reason.

Well, unfortunately for our heroes, their criminal activity catches up to them, thanks to the fat kid ratting them out. They try to make a deal with the cops - something American juvenile criminals would NEVER do! What are they teaching them in the schools down there?! - and, when rebuffed, join forces with all the other push bikers in whatever town they're in to take down the hooligans once and for all. There's some Reich-esque fist-pumping and ignoble screaming about getting their bike track, and we're off for the thrilling climax!

I almost missed what happens in the climax because at this point I was too busy being romanced by the Australian dialogue to pay attention. Here are some gems:

"Your little walkie-talkies have gone walkies."
"Let's put the frighteners in 'em."
"You're right in the poo now, sister."

Luckily for me, the climax is so epic my attention was immediately re-focused. The BMXers get one over on the hooligans by throwing flour at them! I wonder if this was the inspiration for the bad guy to die of suffocation in a silo full of grain in 'Witness.'

This screen grab has nothing to do with either grain silos or BMX bikes, I just like how Harrison Ford looks like he's taking this Amish guy hostage while Aragorn helps him out.

The conclusion to this story is that criminals get what they want, because the push bike gang gets their skate park, bemusingly called 'Manly BMX Track.' Is Manly what we are meant to believe prepubescent bikers are? Or, in the last frames of the movie, do we actually find out where it takes place? It must be the latter, because as far as I know there's no deleted scene for the Blu-Ray showing Goose and PJ becoming men by finally having sex with Nicole. The very end is a long shot following Nicole while actually biking, with an Academy Award-winning look of dead seriousness on her once-sweet face, as though somehow she knew she was going to be a huge star and was already making demands like 'I want a clear shot of me and not my stunt double actually riding this fucking bike.'

I think this movie deserves more than two Nickelback thumbs-up. I reckon it deserves a proper Australian send-off!

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