A Dream Flick

Sam Jacobsen, Junior Editor

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Recently a good friend, and fellow movie lover introduced me to a little 2015 b-movie entitled Turbo Kid.  My movie watching schedule is pretty strict–I have a list of what I want to watch when, and I don’t usually let people change that schedule.  However, this friend of mine seemed very smitten with this film, so I figured I’d give it a quick watch.  My expectations were pretty low.  The film was a Canadian horror-comedy that I had heard was a rip-off of Mad Max (one of my favorite film series).  It caught me off guard then when I watched it, and absolutely loved it.  I absolutely love few of the movies I watch, and I watch A LOT of movies.  What’s even more, I found that I was obsessed with the film (something that happens only rarely given how many films I watch).  When the credits started to roll I felt cheated–I wanted more.  Running an hour and thirty-five minutes, Turbo Kid was a good length.  It did a lot in the time it had, and did it well.  But I wanted so much more.

My love for the film took me by surprise, and for a while after watching it I was at a loss as to why I enjoyed it so much.  Was it because it was funny?  Was it the acting?  The score?  The over-the-top gore?  I didn’t know.  However, upon watching it a second time (this time paying closer attention) the answer became clear.  Why is Turbo Kid so oddly appealing?  Because the film is a dream.

The film was a b-movie; that much is obvious.  The effects aren’t on the level of a blockbuster, and the amount of people that know about it and have seen it is pretty low.  However, the movie does well with what it has.  Blending a beautiful score, well structured characters, and comedically over-the-top gore, Turbo Kid is on the surface pretty appealing.  But to me at least the movie wasn’t just pretty appealing it was extremely appealing.  And I believe that is due largely to its plot.  

The plot isn’t anything special, but that’s exactly why it’s so good.  The plot is quite simple–a boy (known only as THE KID) must use his newly-gained powers to save his girlfriend from the clutches of an evil overlord.   Why is it so powerful?  Simply because that’s the same plot of countless childhood fantasies: gain a special power, defeat the bad guy, save the person of your dreams.  It’s a wonderfully childish story that knows not to take itself too seriously.

One of the reasons its simple story resonates so deeply is the main character—The Kid.  That kid could be literally any kid–he’s more of an archetype into which anyone can insert themselves.  There again it plays like a daydream of youth.  I remember when I was younger I’d place myself in the shoes of some hero or another; it made me happy to do so.  As I got older I found it harder to picture myself in the shoes of some hero; a little bit of the child in me died.  I wasn’t a superhero, I was Sam.  Sure I still daydreamed about being a superhero, but the formula for it had changed and became weaker.  

Turbo Kid was for me, then, the bitter-sweet simplicity of childhood.  In the film no one has to worry about how many credits they have for graduation, or who’s going to win president.  The world in which the film takes place is so simplistic and childish.  It’s a reality in which people prove their stuff through arm wrestling and the main form of transportation is a bicycle.  It’s a beautifully simple world for a beautifully childish story.

Buried beneath all the foul language and the comedically over the top splat-fest gore Turbo Kid is a childhood fantasy that managed to touch me as few of the films I’ve watched have.  I started the film with low expectations (“no way is it going to be as good as The Godfather”) and finished it having had learned a valuable lesson.  I love films.  I love to watch them and make them, but something in my teenage mind was telling me that the only good movies were these scary, gritty, sad movies.  Turbo Kid has reminded me why I wanted to make movies and books in the first place: to fill people’s heads with wonder.  I don’t need to make something a tragedy in order to make it memorable, I simply need to make it memorable.  The film awoke a childish giddiness deep inside of me that I have for long thought of as immature, and I am grateful for that.

If you have the stomach for splatter (the film uses blood and guts excessively, but in a humorous manner), and have some spare time I would strongly recommend Turbo Kid.           

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