Lexi: A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….
And by long ago I mean the post-apocalyptic 1990s. And by far away I mean, um… Australia, right? I know it’s a British comic, but I always figured it was set in Australia? Lemme Google it.
Yup, Australia. ANYWAY, this is Tank Girl! The… movie, not the comic. Yeah, the one everyone hated. Everyone but me. And you, out there, one person saying “Hey, I thought it was okay.” I didn’t forget you.
Here with me today, who I may or may not have dragged kicking and screaming to watch it again with me, is the lovely Brooke, who’s seeing this magnificent piece of stupidity just now for the very first time. Say hi, Brooke!
Brooke: Lexi has been on me forever to watch this movie. And if not for our schedules and amazingly bad collective memories I would have watched this with her before. So for the record I wasn’t hesitant. I just have the memory capacity of a ham sandwich.
I did see a review of this and so I thought I knew what I was in for. But much like a fever dream you have to experience it yourself regardless of how well it is described to you. Does that render a review pointless? Ummmmm… let’s just move along
Lexi: I wouldn’t say it makes a review pointless — if for no other reason than almost all of the reviews I’ve seen of this have been the same, and equally mean-spirited. Not that this doesn’t necessarily deserve a good portion of the general disgust that comes its way. Folks, if you are coming for something that’s compelling, comprehensive, sensible, or in any way functional as an actual movie, Tank Girl is noooooot for you.
It is, however, awesome, though I think a great deal of that may depend on how intimately you relate to the film’s apunkalyptic aesthetic, schizophrenic animated sequences, and overall… 90s-ness of this. ‘Cause fuck is it 90s-y.
Brooke: That’s one of the things I didn’t expect. Watching this is like injecting the 90s directly into your eyeballs. The random animated cutaways made me think of some vintage MTV. For the kids reading this, MTV used to show cartoons and music videos for edgy teens. Except in the 90s, all teens were edgy.
Which is a double edge, because if you aren’t a fan of that era, then this is super-dated. Also the hyper sugar-fueled plot could be a turnoff for viewers. Sometimes the plot jumps the tracks but at the same time what’s happening is so weird that you don’t notice it too much. I hate the phrase “turn off your brain” because it gets misused so much but in this case you do have to turn your brain off. Just a smidge.
Lexi: Yeah, that is sort of the case. But like, only sort of, right? Because… hm. How do I phrase this. I feel like most “turn off your brain” movies accept no intellectual investment because they have no content worth thinking about at all — just explosions and terrorists and the occasional fart joke. This movie, however, kind of does… just in a different way. It’s a never-ending onslaught of the quirky and the odd and the semi-artistic, which can come off as silly if you don’t invest that thought into appreciating it.
Or something like that.
I think what I’m trying to say is that Tank Girl doesn’t so much require an absence of brain, as it does require (or at least strongly support) the use of drugs. Like all the best things from the 90s.
Brooke: Fair enough. What I mean is when people use the phrase they mean people are overthinking the movie, AKA thinking about it at all. In this case I mean this is not a “traditional” post-apocalypse movie. Or a traditional comic book movie. Or a traditional buddy road trip movie. But at the same time it’s all those things. You shouldn’t expect it to fit any mold because they broke the mold on this. Put this in the Brooke-tionary; “Turn off your brain” = Suspend expectations.
Lexi: Ah, I getcha. So definitely not the version most people use, which typically seems to mean “Accept it for being pointless.” Which sometimes is necessary… but rarely.
Brooke: So in the future year of 2022, back when the year 2000 was our glorious future. Or not so glorious, depending on the movie– anyway. In the future, space crap hits the Earth and causes a drought that doesn’t seem to have an end. I say space crap because Wikipedia said comet but I don’t think that’s right but I don’t want to do actual research. *Sigh*
Anyway, big drought and water is more valuable than toilet paper and there’s a guy who has all the water and– you know, that old story. Random thought, is this the same universe as Mad Max? Does that fan fiction exist?
Lexi: Shit, they are both in Australia. Wait… let me Google something really quick.
Yeah, that’d be a fuzzy connection if we got strict with the lore. According to the comic, Mad Max takes place circa 2031 and… well, there was no meteor. The meteor cinches it. It would definitely be a crossover I’d love to see anyway, but sadly, for anyone who sharply inhaled at the idea of Mad Max and Tank Girl existing in the same universe… sorry, nope. Just a very similar one.
Brooke: So we have the villain “Kesslee” played by Malcolm McDowell before he got desperate.
Brooke: Ahem, overly desperate. He plays a good douche well. Obviously the real draw is Lori Petty as the title character. And her sidekick… holy sweet bbq sheezus. Naomi Watts? If she was the lead this review would actually be relevant. Good on us for that. Seriously did not know that was her.
Lexi: I actually liked her more in this than anything else I’ve seen her in. She pulls off “adorkable” intoxicatingly well, and seeing her slowly come out of her shell because of Rebecca feels natural and well-performed. She was probably thinking this movie wasn’t gonna bomb like [insert, then immediately redact, relevant war reference].
Brooke: It kinda did. But not due to her or Lori for sure. She played a great straight man to Tank Girl’s colorful personality. Which I really liked. Rebecca could give a shit about the apocalypse. She made her own way wherever however. As opposed to the survival trope that you normally see in this sort of movie.
Lexi: True, you know, I’ve never actually thought about that. It’s nice to see an apocalypse survivor who isn’t grimy, miserable, and desperate for once. Not that it’s as realistic to get by with such a fun-and-dropkicks attitude as our heroine, but– well, unless you have drugs I guess. That could answer it. That would actually make a lot of sense. Maybe they snort pieces of the meteor.
But even with that said, nobody ever tried to argue that Tank Girl was even supposed to be realistic in the slightest. It borders very, very closely on cartoonish, to the point where it actually launches into cartoons from time to time, so I don’t think anyone would even try to hold it up as a standard of realism in filmmaking. What it is is just weird fun, that actually manages to have some witty lines and likeable, if not necessarily all that complex, characters.
Brooke: This is the trigger warning for the die-hard fans to get out or shield away, because you might not like this part. *Deep breath* I think this should be remade. Hear me out! This is not a bad movie at all. It makes mistakes but it is generally a fun ride. It just missed its audience. In the post-Deadpool world. In the post Marvel quirky movie world, this would fit right in.
Keep the atmosphere. Keep the psychedelic cartoon bits– hell, make this an animated movie. Either way I could see it flying. The only real issue with this movie is at times it feels unfocused. This could easily be fixed in a modern script. Or even make this a Netflix series or something.
Lexi: Oooh, or HBO! Imagine how awesome this would be if it was rated R. Actually, wait, Netflix shows can be rated R too. So, nevermind. But yes! I would watch the absolute fuck out of that show.
I’m a little on the fence about a remake, but as long as it stuck to the source material and generally didn’t make an ass of itself, I think I’d be okay with it. Only problems I can foresee is that, A, it would lose its vibrant 90s-ness, and B, no Lori Petty. I have a hard time imagining anyone, past or present, owning that role like she did.
Brooke: Well yeah. They have to keep the gen-x feel or there’s no point. Why this would work is because we love wisecracking good/not-so-good characters. And references. And punk anything. Maybe not a total remake. Maybe just a new movie based off the comic with the general feel of this.
Lexi: I’d certainly be down for trying it out. Certainly nothing to lose, considering that the movie doesn’t really have any legacy to tarnish, since it was only appreciated by a very small number of people. Which brings us to the big question, the ultimate purpose of us watching this — we already know that I love it, but how did you feel about it?
Brooke: I liked it and will probably watch again in the future. More importantly I think, it made me curious about the source material, which is probably the highest praise you can give a comic book movie. There were parts that I wasn’t crazy about, but then there’s another Rebecca scene and I was back into it. I don’t think it deserves the negativity it gets; there are certainly much worse things, a lot of which are more recent. I would recommend this to fans of quirky sci-fi movies or quirky movies in general.
Lexi: I think that’s about the best I can ask for, as far as something like this goes. Even rewatching it myself, it’s definitely not perfect… but it sticks with me as a really fun experience and a crystallized piece of an era that we can’t get back.
You out there, you reading this: Have you seen this, or read the comics? If you have, make sure to tell us what you think in the comments below!