Friday, November 14, 2008

Tank Girl (Rachel Talalay, 1995)

Made during a time when everyone was obsessed with making films that made sense and stuff, Tank Girl is a different breed of entertainment, one that casts aside pesky cinematic nuisances such as a cohesive structure and levelheaded plotting to create something bold and erratic. Unfolding in a near future that is post-apocalyptic in nature, the world is dry as a bone that isn't wet and the malevolent folks at Water and Power have a monopoly on the planet's liquids. That is, until an extremely plucky young woman named "Tank Girl" comes along to, oh, I don't know, rescue little girls, blow stuff up, force brothel workers to sing Cole Porter at gun point... you know, the usual. Armed with a vast array of punky hairstyles, the tank-driving cutie, in addition to a subterranean crew of kangaroo-human hybrids and her jet plane flying gal pal (the aptly named Jet Girl), dares to challenge their fascistic authority by employing sheer feistiness, an unmatched can-do spirit, and the occasional well-placed tank shell.

Engulfed in pure wrongness at every turn, on the surface Tank Girl may appear rancid and covered with moldy cheese, but underneath all that incompetence lies the beating heart of a movie that doesn't know meaning of the word quit. Whether I was watching the fabulous Ann Magnuson being pressured to perform "Let's Do It" as an armada of silver-wigged dancers kick their shapely legs in unison (it was kinda like watching a Company B video on more acid), or basking in the sight of a post-apocalyptic fashion plate paragliding behind her tricked-out armoured vehicle, I always felt as if I was in the presence of something utterly unique.

Akin to films like Barbarella and Radioactive Dreams, Rachel Talalay's film is saturated with such a goofy charm, that its idiocy cannot be denied. (Did I mention that it features Ice-T as a talking kangaroo named T-Saint and Naomi Watts as a shy brunette?)

Now, I don't know exactly how many actresses auditioned to play the poster girl for the apocalypse, but I do know one thing: Lori Petty is "Tank Girl." I mean, if there ever was a person put on this earth to play a woman who wishes she could masturbate whilst wearing a straitjacket, it's Lori.

Reciting ridiculous dialogue like it were poetry, not to mention, and sporting the coolest haircut (shaved sides on a woman make life worth living) since Deborah Goodrich in Remote Control, Miss Petty dives headfirst into the role of the carefree troublemaker. Imbuing her with enough moxie to fill a medium-priced kiddie pool. She fearlessly lashes out against conformity and good manners, yet I found the film's over reliance on animated sequences to be an insult to Petty and her performance. It was almost as if the producers were saying they lacked confidence in her or something.

Oh, and even though it was filmed during the dark days of 1995, the soundtrack is refreshingly grunge-free, as it features songs by Devo, Björk, Richard Hell, Portishead, and Belly.


video uploaded by Nathan Tails Productions
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6 comments:

  1. I saw this five or six years ago. I remember mostly thinking "WTF?"

    Anyhow, ultimately, I remember having a good time, but thinking the movie made absolutely no sense. Mostly memorable for the good soundtrack and the most memorable pre-Mulholland Dr. Naomi Watts film.

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  2. Using the acronym "WTF" is an excellent way to describe Tank Girl.

    I thought it made some sense. ;)

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  3. Oh, my God, I just saw the trailer for Fast and Furious--new version, old parts?

    So...taking out the definite articles is their way of resurrecting the franchise? What (the) ****?

    I just noticed that Tank Girl reunited China Beach castmates Jeff Kober and Brian Wimmer. There's my random trivia for the day.

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  4. Woo-hoo! Both Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are returning. High five? (don't leave me hanging)

    The next Fast and the Furious flick should be just called "Fastidious."

    Tank Girl co-stars Scott Coffey and Naomi Watts would later appear together in not only Mulholland Dr., but also Ellie Parker, Rabbits, Inland Empire and Never Date an Actress. There's mine. Random trivia, that is.

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  5. I just watched Tank Girl and was disappointed in the lack of Joan Cusack, even though she's listed in the credits as Sub Girl.

    However, ripped nylons were a big plus.

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  6. I don't remember seeing Joan Cusack. I think you mean Ann Cusack... Either way, you're right, there should been more of Sub Girl.

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