This movie speaks to the 90s kid in all of us and was MADE for cult status, which is to say, it isn’t very good. But it was quite quotable and a little risque, which is really all it took back in 1995. And of course Lori Petty fulfilled all our alt-chick fantasies.
Tank Girl is based on a badass British comic strip but of course lost most of its uniquely British humour in the Hollywood rewrites. Studios, in fact, objected to a lot of the original material, such as showing Tank Girl in bed with her half-kangaroo boyfriend, this DESPITE the fact that it was a waste of a perfectly good $5000 10-inch prosthetic penis.
The year is 2033. We’re post apocalypse, naturally, and there’s been no rain for 11 straight years. Tank Girl and friends live in a wasteland fighting the oppression of “Water & Power’ led by Malcolm McDowell.
Audiences turned out to be mostly apathetic, and critics unkind, but it soon garnered an underground cult following who love the feminist, anti-heroine themes, and who can blame them? Flaws aside, Tank Girl IS a lot of fun to watch. She’s brash and bombastic and despite the fact that it’s the end of the world, she’s got an unending 90s-fabulous wardrobe. And as incredible as Petty is in the part, it’s also fun to occasionally see her animated counterpart leap into action.
I mean, in what other movie could you seek revenge for the prostitution of young kids to pedophiles by humiliating the pimp (or, well, madame) by making her sing Cole Porter at gunpoint? And in what other world would drought and murder combine to make the most fabulous weapon of recycling ever (because the human body is of course 60% water, and waste not, want not)?
Unlike most comic book movies where women are sexually objectified (or just plain absent), Tank Girl was herself sex-positive and comfortable in her dominance. She is competent, anti-establishment, strong, and fierce. Her sidekick, Jet Girl, is brilliant but less confident – and worth checking out because it’s probably the earliest we American audiences saw Naomi Watts, in a movie she now claims to be ashamed of.
Possibly the best thing about the movie is its obligatory 90s-alt soundtrack, assembled by Courtney Love, and including tracks by Bjork, Bush, Portishead, Hole, Joan Jett, Veruca Salt, and of course Ice T (because he costars).
With a proud place on Luke Buckmaster’s list of 10 “weirdest superhero films”, it’s really something that has to be seen to be understood. Love it or hate it, it’s a film with longevity, and begs the question: is Tank Girl due for a remake?
Tank Girl can be seen on the big screen this Wednesday, July 13th in Toronto at The Carlton.