Thursday, December 15, 2011


Welcome to Day 3 of our 12 Reviews of Xmas blog feature. Today's review of the 80s Aussie actioner BMX BANDITS serves multiple purposes. In addition to finally getting my lazy butt around to posting the review, it also lets me promote the upcoming print edition of ER. If you dig this review, be sure to stay tuned to this blog, our website, Twitter feed and/or Facebook page for the latest news about the zine's release date as review author Jonathan Plombon anchors the issue with a massive piece on the porn and wrestling connection while longtime zine pal Kami Mcinnes files a report from Down Under on 10 Overlooked Ozploitation Classics. See how I tied that all together?!

Watching BMX BANDITS today will totally shatter your perspective on life.  Not that it's awful.  It really isn't.  It's that your first instinct is to laugh whenever you hear the futuristic flying sounds that occur whenever the kids launch their bikes into the air.  At twelve years old, those sounds are cool.  But as adults, those sounds elicit a groan for their campiness, especially in a culture that urinates on everything and only enjoys spaceship bike sounds for their "ironic" qualities.

Why do we do this?  Is it that difficult just to enjoy a movie?  

BMX BANDITS is fun.  It's a two-wheel romp of bike stunts and clever one-liners.  And, yes, anyone who reads ER will know that Nicole Kidman is in this movie.  And unlike most movies with a prominent star plastered on its box that were part of the discount release VHS pile at your local Media Play, BMX BANDITS actually contains a lot of Kidman.

But even outside of its novelty for being a 1983 film for a future Academy-Award nominee, BMX BANDITS still manages to thrill on its own merit.

The plot is fairly simple.  Three teenagers (played by Kidman, Angelo D'Angelo, and James Lugton, all of whom do a great job) find a box of walkie talkies, which they intend to sell to friends in order to purchase new BMX gear and bikes.  However, the box of walkie talkies belongs to a group of on-the-run bank robbers who have designated their two most bumbling members (David Argue and John Ley) to investigate the lost property.  The children foil the incompetent duo, along with the cops who've been eavesdropping on the kids' jaw jacking.  The rest is a caffeine-fueled game of cat and mouse, as the kids outwit the adults in every way.

And that's what BMX BANDITS is.  Although it's the stunt work that promotes the film, it's the children outsmarting the adults by themselves which makes it relatable (hell, their parents aren't even mentioned).   As a child, you're a passive, second-class citizen.  You can't vote.  You can't argue.  You can't choose where to live.  You can't drive.  All that you know is your bike and that your bike represents freedom from your painfully constricting universe of school and parents.

The child viewers know this.  Because of which, BMX BANDITS succeeds by empowering those children watching the film.  It gives them hope.  It informs them that all they need to do is to make their own chance and that they too could make their life better.

That's all pretty much lost on kids today who crap on anything that isn't computer generated or explosion-filled.  Today, it's the special effects that keep people captivated.  It's a world that has become much smaller thanks to social media sites and cell phones.  In contrast, just being in touch with other kids by using walkie talkies in BMX BANDITS must have been a thrill for its once-adolescent audiences.

However, while there's nothing wrong with the slim plot, the script will sometimes drift into pointless territory.  A love story between Judy (Kidman) and Goose (Lugton) goes nowhere after they kiss in an open grave while hiding from the bank robbers.  It's a decent dynamic, but only builds up to no pay off whatsoever.

SEVERIN went to great lengths to add some extra features to the disc (which hopefully will prevent you from purchasing one of the shabbier, cheaper releases).  Along with the typical DVD bells and whistles like the theatrical trailer and audio commentary by the director, Brian Trenchard-Smith, there's also a 40-miute featurette called BMX BUDDIES with a plethora of interviews with the crew and the cast (not surprisingly, Kidman did not participate).  There's also a clip from Kidman on an Australian show called YOUNG TALENT TIME.  What a different time!  They don't even make shows like that anymore.

Fans of THE GOONIES, RAD and THE DIRT BIKE KID have probably already seen BMX BANDITS, but uneducated fans of slightly inappropriate children's films (those robbers make no bones about it – they want to KILL the 16-year-old Kidman character) from the 1980s should also take heed.

Don't be so jaded.  BMX BANDITS is repeat-viewing gold.

BMX BANDITS is available from Amazon.

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