In concept, Turbo Kid is so completely mired in the current Tumblr-generated, 80s-obsessed, throwback culture that’s been driven deeply into the ground that you’d think it would play as being tired, but in execution it’s so sincere and so concerned with celebrating the joys of everything that was fun about 80s genre cinema that you still can’t help but have a good time watching it. The story is a low budget throwback to Mad Max, with dashes of things like Star Wars and Big Trouble in Little China thrown in. The Kid (Munroe Chambers) is our hero, a young punk with a sweet BMX bike and a custom-painted helmet who lives in a fallout shelter full of every awesome toy, comic book, and bit of junk food he can salvage from the post-apocalyptic wasteland that is his surroundings. His life is every ten-year-old’s dream, which is escapist gold in itself, but it’s not all the movie has to offer.
Things pick up when he meets a very manic and very pixie dream girl friend named Apple (Laurence Leboeuf), who he’s reluctant to accept at first but who eventually wins him over through the sheer force of cuteness, and they pick up even further after she’s kidnapped by the evil forces of an after society tribe leader named Zeus (Michael Ironsides). Before you know it, he’s using his turbo-powered weapon that kind of resembles an archaic video game accessory to team up with a grizzled cowboy named Frederic the Arm Wrestler (Aaron Jeffrey) in order to save the girl and bring justice to an outlawed landscape—all set to the kind of pulsing, synth score you’d expect a movie like this to have if it actually did come out in the 80s. It all sounds so cloying, doesn’t it? But it’s just so damned earnest that you can’t help but get on board anyway.
That said, the film isn’t a complete joy. In many ways its low budget nature only ads to the charm of what it’s trying to do, but in other ways it’s still limiting. Clearly there weren’t too many locations writing/directing trio François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell could afford to shoot at, so the film kind of just does the same thing over and over again in similar looking places, with diminishing results. How many battles between goofy, sporting good-equipped good guys and goofy, power tool-equipped bad guys can one sit through? Quite a few, especially given all of the delightful, over the top gore that this film provides, but not quite as many as it requires you to. Somewhere after the fifth time the heroes have suffered a devastating loss you stop caring about their plight and start looking at your watch. Turbo Kid is a lot of fun, it’s just maybe not feature film fun. Cut a half hour off this thing, throw it on Adult Swim, and it would have been legendary.