This is my gnome stick!
Words // Film Review by Clifton Wilder Koons II
Ever rewatch a movie you absolutely loved as a kid, and you’re somehow transported back in time and blissfully overwhelmed with that same sense of childlike wonder as the first time you watched it while sitting on the carpet Indian style and sucking down a Squeeze-It? Well, thanks to the 2015 Sundance Audience Award winner, Turbo Kid, you can experience that same sense of wonder without ever worrying that your 8 year old self somehow skewed your perception and tricked your brain into falling in love with garbage. Instead, Turbo Kid brings back the 1980s style of filmmaking with plenty of delightfully cheesy practical effects, blood spurting gore that would make Quentin Tarantino proud, and a morbid sense of humor to top it all off, making Turbo Kid a must see for anyone looking to smile, cheer, and literally laugh out loud for a straight hour and a half.
Unlike most post-apocalyptic films, Turbo Kid takes place in the dystopian future of, wait for it, 1997, in which bicycles are the only mode of transportation, resulting in some hilarious chase scenes. Within this desolate wasteland, the protagonist simply known as “the Kid” struggles to save his newfound girlfriend, Apple, from an evil overlord named Zeus and his malicious, masked minions, including the buzz saw shooting Skeletron. Luckily, the Kid stumbles upon the corpse of his comic book hero, Turbo Rider, and arms himself with his dead hero’s turbo blaster glove to become Turbo Kid and blast and burst his enemies into pools of blood.
Even during the film’s more grotesque moments, Turbo Kid still manages to maintain an almost constant comedic tone, at least when the touching love story between the Kid and Apple or the occasional flashback of the Kid’s tragic past aren’t busy tugging at your heart strings and turning you into a pile of goo like one of Turbo Kid’s foes. For example, when one of the many unnamed baddies gets sliced in two at the waist, the lower half of his body and his upper half fly through the air, land on the heads of two other nearby baddies, and cause them to blindly stumble around the battle field for a large portion of the final fight scene. With this in mind, Turbo Kid often chucks logic out the window like when Turbo Kid jams a long, beach umbrella into one of the baddies’ stomach and opens the umbrella inside of her, causing her to burst into a million pieces. Moments such as these may take some viewers out of the cinematic experience as they not only suspend disbelief but break it in half, but every ridiculous moment is well worth the disgusted cinephile head shake that’s quickly followed by a belly laugh.
Turbo Kid’s Australian bad-ass of a partner, Fredric, may be a little off-putting for some viewers as he often spouts purposely cliché dialogue in an attempt to mock the stereotypical action hero, specifically Mad Max, but Apple, who’s played by Laurence Leboef, steals the show away from both the leading heroes as the overly optimistic girlfriend with the ability to smile with sheer joy even when trapped in a gladiator-like pit and seconds away from being pummeled by baddies three times her size. Whether she’s beating someone’s brains out with a baseball bat with a lawn gnome taped to its end or gutting someone with a toy unicorn head strapped to her bike, her infectious glee will undoubtedly give you the same unwavering grin as Apple every time she’s on the screen.
For those cinephiles out there sticking up their noses and prematurely poo-pooing a film you’ve yet to feast your eyes on, rest assured that even though Turbo Kid‘s an action-packed joyride for the masses, it still delivers an exceptional storyline that’s artistically complex enough to compete with and even beat its fellow Sundance contenders. In fact, it did! So shut up, sit down, turn the TV on, and be prepared for Turbo Kid to keep you guessing every step of the way because even when you think you’ve got the story all figured out, it smacks you across the face with a monkey wrench, or in Turbo Kid’s case, a double-sided hammer.
The ending might be a little jarring and slightly depressing for such a chipper gore-fest as Turbo Kid, but it’s simply one of the many elements of the film that makes it so delightfully different from the typical superhero tent poles that currently plague movie theaters these days. Let’s face it, you won’t see Iron man or Captain America ripping off a man’s jaw or ripping out a man’s intestines with a bicycle wheel. So if you’re looking for a dose of action-packed, laugh-a-minute, Sundance worthy entertainment to remind you that not all action flicks require overused Hollywood formulas, extraneous amounts of CGI, and a PG-13 rating, then you should definitely check out Turbo Kid.
FINAL FILM GRADE: A-