It’s been a long time since I saw a children’s film that wasn’t a cgi animation or laden with special effects. I am aware of High School Musical, Hannah Montana and the work of the Olsen twins, but have managed to avoid them so far. Surely they can’t be the only live action, sfx free fare on offer to kids these days? Is there a modern equivalent to BMX Bandits?
In a very early role, Nicole Kidman is Judy, a BMX mad young lady working in the local market to raise enough money to get herself a new bike. She meets Goose and
Maverick P.J., equally bike mad boys, when they wreck their bikes at the store. Though the accident was neither their fault nor hers, it costs her her job. Bonding over their shared love of cycling, the three become fast friends and set out to make their money by more creative means.
Fishing for mussels, Judy, P.J. and Goose find a mysterious box which contains walkie-talkies. With little thought to the legality of their salvage, they proceed to sell the radios. The problem is, there were destined for an armed gang who are planning a big payroll job and need them to communicate. They’re also on the Police band, so both cops and criminals are hunting them. Cue ‘mild peril’ and car chases.
Perhaps because it’s Australian, or maybe because it was the Eighties and they didn’t focus group things to death as often back then, there’s a refreshing coarseness to the film. The kids are self reliant and rebellious and in the end they benefit from these qualities, rather than having to learn important life lessons about how they must conform. There’s no cheesy romance sub plot, though they do cheekily play with it a couple of times. Trapped in a freshly dug grave, Goose tries to kiss Judy and, after dodging it, she tells him that she likes him just as much as P.J. but…. All the while unaware that the radio is on and P.J. can hear their conversation. Later, when jealousy looks like rearing its ugly head again, she comes out with the great line- “Two’s company, three…. Gets us talked about.”
Production values are quite high and the chases are well choreographed. The goons sent to recover the radios are buffoons but still manage, when needed, to be threatening, and the holes in the story aren’t big enough to care about.
I really enjoyed this film, and not just for nostalgic reasons. I don’t know how a modern tween or teen might feel about it. If you’ve got one lying around would you find out for me? Thanks.
You can buy BMX Bandits from Amazon.