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The Garbage Pail Kids Movie

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The Garbage Pail Kids Movie
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRod Amateau
Written by
  • Rod Amateau
  • Melinda Palmer
Based onGarbage Pail Kids
by John Pound (uncredited)
Produced byRod Amateau
CinematographyHarvey Genkins
Edited by
  • Leon Carrere
  • M. Edward Salier
Music byMichael Lloyd
Distributed byAtlantic Releasing Corporation
Release date
  • August 21, 1987 (1987-08-21)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1 million
Box office$1.6 million[1]

The Garbage Pail Kids Movie is a 1987 film adaptation of the children's trading cards series of the same name produced, directed, and co-written by Rod Amateau. It was the last film to be directed by Amateau before his retirement in 1989 and death in 2003.

The cards began as a parody of the popular Cabbage Patch Kids dolls and each card features a character who typically has a gross habit or abnormality, or suffers a terrible fate. The film depicts seven of the Garbage Pail Kids (played by dwarf actors in animatronic costumes) interacting with society and befriending a regular boy.

The film was lambasted by critics and is widely considered to be one of the worst films ever made.

The Garbage Pail Kids were nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst New Star, but lost to David Mendenhall for Sylvester Stallone's Over the Top, and the song "You Can Be a Garbage Pail Kid" was nominated for the Worst Original Song, but lost to George Michael's controversial hit "I Want Your Sex" from Eddie Murphy's Beverly Hills Cop II.


A garbage can spaceship is seen flying near Earth, which is then shown inside an antique shop owned by Captain Manzini. A boy named Dodger is being assaulted by four older teenage bullies in a park. Juice, the leader, steals Dodger's money and drops him in a puddle. Dodger goes to Manzini's antique shop, where he works. Manzini takes Dodger's clothes and cleans them while warning him to stay away from the garbage can.

Later, Dodger sees Tangerine, Juice's girlfriend, and he tries to persuade her to buy something from the shop. Dodger is attracted to Tangerine and covertly smells her hair while she is distracted. The other bullies enter the shop and attempt to rough up Dodger again, but he manages to outwit them. However, during the tussle, the garbage can is knocked over and a green ooze spills out. The bullies then bring Dodger into a sewer, handcuff him to a rail, and open a pipe, pouring sewage onto him. Dodger is then saved by little mysterious people named the Garbage Pail Kids.

Manzini returns and is upset that the Garbage Pail Kids have been released from their can, but he introduces Dodger to each of them: Greaser Greg, a leather jacket-wearing greaser with a violent attitude; Messy Tessie, a girl with a constantly runny nose; Windy Winston, a boy who wears a Hawaiian shirt and often farts violently; Valerie Vomit, a girl who throws up on command; Foul Phil, a whining hungry baby with halitosis who constantly asks characters if they are his "mommy" or "daddy"; Nat Nerd, an obese acne-riddled boy who dresses up like a superhero and wets his pants frequently; and Ali Gator, the group's leader, an anthropomorphic half-person/half-alligator with an appetite for human toes. Manzini explains that the kids are forbidden from going out in public, because they will be attacked by the "normies" (normal people), and that he cannot get the kids to go back into the garbage can without magic.

The next day, Dodger goes with Tangerine to a nightclub where she sells clothes she designed. Dodger behaves awkwardly when Tangerine removes her shirt to sell it. Dodger then hides when Juice shows up. Meanwhile, the Kids steal a Pepsi truck, flatten Juice's car with it, and then have a campfire in an alley with stolen food. The next morning, the Garbage Pail Kids recover from food-induced hangovers and give Dodger a jacket they sewed. The jacket impresses Tangerine, and she asks Dodger to get more clothes so she can sell them. Upon Dodger's request, the Kids increase their output after stealing a sewing machine from a non-union sweatshop, but then get bored and go out in public in disguise. They go to a theater playing Three Stooges shorts and behave obnoxiously. Ali and Winston go to a bar and get into a fight with bikers, who are soon won over by the Kids' heroics, after which they celebrate with beers. Meanwhile, Tangerine sells the clothes and begins to prepare for a fashion show based on them. She meets the Kids and though repulsed by them, realizes that she can take advantage of their designs.

On the night of the fashion show, Tangerine locks the Kids in the basement of the antique shop to prevent their escape, and soon they are captured by Juice and his gang who bring them to the State Home for the Ugly, a prison where people too ugly for society are brought and executed. Manzini, Dodger and the bikers help them and the other prisoners escape and head to the fashion show. The Kids trash the fashion show and rip the clothes off the models, while Dodger defeats Juice. Later that night, Tangerine apologizes to Dodger and asks to be his friend, but Dodger rejects it, saying he doesn't think she's pretty any more. Captain Manzini tries to play the Garbage Pail Kids' song backward to coax them back into the garbage can, but the Kids sneak out and ride away on stolen ATVs to cause more havoc.


The Garbage Pail Kids[edit]

  • Phil Fondacaro as Greaser Greg
  • Debbie Lee Carrington as Valerie Vomit
  • Kevin Thompson as Ali Gator
  • Robert Bell as Foul Phil
    • Chloe Amateau, the director's daughter, as Foul Phil's voice
  • Larry Green as Nat Nerd
    • Jim Cummings as Nat Nerd's voice
  • Arturo Gil as Windy Winston
  • Sue Rossitto as Messy Tessie
    • Teri Benaron as Messy Tessie's voice


In April 1987, it was announced Atlantic Entertainment Group acquired the license for Garbage Pail Kids from Topps Chewing Gum to be adapted as a feature film as the franchise had been a massive success selling over 1 billion cards and successfully applied to other merchandise.[2] Shooting began in April of that year with shooting completed by June with the quick turnaround time on production credited to the film using the Ediflex electronic editing system that was more commonly used on TV shows and allowed the production to operate with a smaller crew and almost no film lab services.[3][2]


The film's depiction of the Garbage Pail Kids in costumes received criticism.[4]

The film was lambasted by critics upon its release, and is widely considered to be one of the worst films ever made.[citation needed] The film holds a 0% approval rating, and an average score of 2.2/10 on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 14 reviews.[5] Metacritic gives the film a score of 1 out of 100, the lowest on the website, based on reviews from 7 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike".[6] Critics disliked the film's rude humor, acting, puppetry, inappropriate moments, the appearance and voice acting of the Garbage Pail Kids, nonsensical plot, and hypocritical message.[citation needed] Juan Carlos Coto, writing for the News/Sun-Sentinel, called the movie "one of the worst ever made".[7] Caryn James of The New York Times called the film "too repulsive for children or adults of any age".[8]

Akron Beacon Journal film critic Bill O'Connor, criticized the costumes in the film, as well as the message saying it merely pays "lip service" to the message that "our insistence on physical beauty, and a narrowly defined "beauty" at that, limits our understanding, cuts us off from real human beauty."[4]

Internet critic Doug Walker, best known for the series Nostalgia Critic, said in a video looking back on the worst movies he had ever reviewed that there was nothing redeemable about the film and called it "mean-spirited", particularly the State Home for the Ugly, and added that the film serves to undermine its own moral.[9] Walker also added that his mother found the film distasteful and unsuitable for children, despite the card collection's fandom among young preadolescent males, and she never allowed him to watch the film in cinemas. Upon viewing the film as an adult, Walker said that he agreed with his mother's assessment, stating "I'm very convinced that this movie would have taken away half of my brain. I would have gotten stupider watching this movie, 'cause I'm not convinced I didn't when I saw it as an adult, so imagine what it could do to me as a child - this little impressionable child that has the whole world waiting for him, both the good and the bad… but I didn't think this bad". He called it not just the worst film he reviewed, but the worst film he has ever seen, and kept showing his gratitude to his mother for forbidding him from watching it in cinema.

Atlantic Releasing Corporation’s head of marketing, Martin Rabinovich, attributed the negative reviews and poor box office to marketing difficulties saying that while it was targeted towards children it was not necessarily a family film.[2]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Subject Result
Stinkers Bad Movie Awards[10] Worst Picture Nominated
Golden Raspberry Award Worst New Star The Garbage Pail Kids Nominated
Worst Original Song Michael Lloyd ("You Can Be a Garbage Pail Kid") Nominated
Worst Visual Effects Nominated

Cancelled reboot[edit]

In 2012, it was reported that Michael Eisner's Tornante Company had plans to finance and produce the development of a feature film based on Garbage Pail Kids, as Eisner had recently purchased the Topps Trading Card company in 2007.[11][12] On July 18, 2013, it was reported that the film was cancelled, due to negative reception.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie Review". Movies.tvguide.com. Retrieved 2013-12-19.
  2. ^ a b c "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)". AFI. Retrieved April 29, 2023.
  3. ^ "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)". TCM. Retrieved June 1, 2023.
  4. ^ a b O'Connor, Bill (August 17, 1987). "Lacking in clear message, 'Garbage Pail Kids' is trash". The Akron Beacon Journal.
  5. ^ The Garbage Pail Kids Movie at Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)". Metacritic. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
  7. ^ "Trashy 'Garbage Pail Kids' Has No Value". Sun-Sentinel. 1987-09-05. Retrieved 29 Sep 2010.
  8. ^ "Movie Review - The Garbage Pail Kids Movie". The New York Times. 1987-08-28. Retrieved 6 Jun 2010.
  9. ^ Doug Walker on The Garbage Pail Kids Movie - YouTube
  10. ^ "1987 10th Hastings Bad Cinema Society Stinkers Awards". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2006-10-17. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  11. ^ Fleming, Mike (12 March 2012). "Michael Eisner's Tornante Company Behind Feature Adaptation Of 'Garbage Pail Kids'". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2013-12-19.
  12. ^ "Michael Eisner and Tornante Plan New 'Garbage Pail Kids' Feature". The Film Stage. 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2019-03-04.

External links[edit]