Thursday, February 21, 2013

Icky & Gross, Just Like a Goober

We came so close.

Following years of Blood Dolls and Dangerous Worry Dolls and Doll Graveyard, it seemed like 2013's Shortening was finally going to bypass the endless ouvre of Charles Band. As much as the man has had his name as producer on some of cinema's greatest vertically challenged hits (Dolls, Troll), his full-out directorial efforts generally leave something to be desired, primarily, the very idea OF effort. 

Hey, if I could make a killer doll movie with the same amount of work it takes to cook a burrito, I'd have 35 credited to my name too.

Goobers came my way via my esteemed colleague and pal, T.L. Bugg, the keeper of the splendiforous blog, The Lightning Bug's Lair. Considering this is the man I once made watch The Nutcracker In 3D, it's only fair that he eventually pay me back with the kind of cheapie kids movie that feels akin to a flea bite. 

Quick Plot: A boy named Tommy starts a new job working on a children's show about a wacky sea captain and his band of ugly puppets. Little does he know, the ugly puppets (seriously: they're hideous) are actually alien slaves to a cruel alien queen named Mara (one name, "like Roseanne") who's returning to earth to claim them. Meanwhile, Tommy decides to investigate the ugly puppet mystery while his female costar chides him for being unprofessional.

Let's get one thing out of the way: the puppets are positively disgusting.

There's Squigby, whose name sounds like what you'd call the geeky dirty kid at summer camp

Esmerelda, who constantly moans as if dubbing a softcore porn

And Blop, whose name and appearance suggests the thing that happens when you sit on a toilet

It all makes perfect sense for a kids movie, right?

Ever buy a Barbie wannabe from a dollar store? They're dolls that hold a vague resemblance to Mattel's famous blond, except the construction seems to be made from the kind of plastic packaging that holds Barbies in place in boxes. Their legs are hollow, arms only move up and down, and faces seems as if they were made by photocopying the blueprints for a more expensive toy, then morphing it over a bouncy ball and adding a nose. The point is, they’re cheap and ugly...much like everything about Goobers.

This is not to say the movie is completely without fun. As Queen Mara and her evil henchman, Caroline Ambrose and Sam Zeller make a campy pair who have no shame going for the broad humor. The younger actors are passable, even when they’re stuck interacting with some of the ugliest art projects ever assembled for the camera. For whatever reason, there’s a subplot involving Tommy’s dad having a baseball card collecting addiction, which seems strange even for 1997, but if it helps Band achieve a 75 minute running length, I guess that’s all that really matters.

High Points
While none give Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards-level performances, the young cast is sufficiently tolerable with material that isn’t always up to par

Low Points
Much like the similarly clueless Kazaam, Goobers seems to have no idea what kind of stories kids actually want to watch. Whereas Shaquille O’Neal’s genie had to battle evil concert bootleggers, the major climax of Goobers relies on reading the fine print of contract negotiations

Lessons Learned
For a child actor, nothing is more horrifying than the Big P

Chekhov’s Law of Baseball Cards: If you feature a rare one, you best have an ugly poop-looking puppet destroy it

Superior beings fart a lot

Goobers (aka Mystery Monsters) is streaming on Netflix, which is the only way you should watch it. Fans of Charles Band’s style (i.e., cheap production values, grotesque little things, and scant running length) will find this a minor dose of something new, as he uses his quick tricks for a so-called kids film.

It just happens to involve a dose of torture. 

And LOTS of farting. 


  1. Great post!

    All right, I might as well out myself. I have a soft spot for the Band produced movies like Dollman, the Puppet Master, and such. (Jackie Earle Haley was the bad guy in the first how bad could it be?)

    That said, I had no idea the man would even come near a kiddie flick. I'm even a little bit confused as to how he would even try to market one, or who the hell would see it. That said, your review has sparked a morbid curiosity...

    It's only 75 minutes long...hmmmm.....

  2. I used to ADORE the Band productions, but they've grown old for me, although some of the classics hold up. And Dollman has Haley AND is set in the South Bronx, so it shall always kick ass.

    Goobers is bizarre. Seriously. It does manage to avoid being inappropriate for the most part, but it's just so...icky. If you've ever bought a knockoff cartoon at a dollar store, it's basically that. Like someone looked at the Muppets and decided to make them at 1/100000th of the price. And out of recycled medical waste. Yeah, that's about it!

  3. It sounds like you've taken a bullet for us all with this one. A small, squishy bullet that bursts sickeningly on contact.

    I also get nostalgic for older Band productions, but every time I think of watching a new one (Evil Bong, The Gingerdead Man) I remember that for every Subspecies or Shadowzone there was a Pod People, a Mandroid, a Bad Channels, and several Puppet Master or Demonic Toys sequels.

  4. Best to stick to that glorious early '90s era. Anything this side of the century is a dangerous endeavor.