In many ways, the cheesy movies of the 1980s spurred within me an unforgiving fondness for bad acting, bad synth-pop soundtracks and especially terrible special effects.
Enter Turbo Kid, a contemporary nostalgic visit to the past. The Canadian low budget action melodrama plays out in a post-apocalyptic 1997 where a kid called Kid (Munro Chambers) finds his inner hero against a tyrannical foe in order to save the day and save the girl.
The Kid is a scavenger in this lawless wasteland world that reminds one not too subtly of the first Terminator movie, the Mad Max cast and landscape, and even Wall-E. He gets his nickname because of his youthfulness. Although we’re never really told how old he is, he rides a bike, wears his helmet everywhere, and totally loves comic books. He idolizes Turbo Rider, the protagonist of his favourite series of pulpy illustrated periodicals.
When the Kid meets Apple (Laurence Leboeuf), they don’t necessarily become fast friends. She is still lamenting her father whose skeletal remains she still converses with and so there’s a kind of laughable tragedy to her character. Apple is pretty desperate for any kind of friendship and she gets that in her newfound beau. Together, they scavenge and talk about comic books.
But evil is afoot in the guise of the one-eyed Zeus, played by a mercilessly scene-chewing Michael Ironside. He rules with an iron fist but not literally. It’s more like a gang of henchmen, one of whom has a weapon that shoots rotating saw blades. Zeus kidnaps Apple so the Kid has to step up to the challenge. Thankfully, he finds his courage and some kind of futuristic gun to help him through the fight.
I must admit that there were several moments of enjoyment such as watching the goofy friendship between Kid and Apple, the prevalence of BMX bikes in a desolate world, the unflinching and unfailing Michael Ironside, and the tired but tried-and-true concept of the unexpected hero.
Sadly, however, there’s just not enough cheese in this earnest pseudo-epic. There are far too many movies being made that strive to recapture that long lost glory of bad movies from previous decades – see Bad City or Kung Fury if you really don’t know what I’m talking about. I have a theory that true cult classics are not intentionally made and so the more effort that is put into such affairs is counterproductive.
I also believe that Turbo Kid didn’t put enough effort into it. Trying not hard enough to be bad makes a movie bad-bad not good-bad.
At least there’s Michael Ironside.
Starring Munro Chambers, Laurence Leboeuf, Edwin Wright and Michael Ironside
Written and directed by FranĂ§ois Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell Runtime: 93 minutes
Rated: 18A for gory violence and vulgar language
Now playing at the Metro Cinema (until Sept. 6)