BMX Bandits (Severin)
“If we’d grown up in Australia, BMX Bandits would have been our Goonies.” – Quentin Tarantino.
No surprise that this quote adorns the cover of Severin’s lovingly-produced DVD and Blu-ray debut of this adolescent adventure comedy directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith, Australia’s homegrown genre jockey (and a filmmaker championed by Tarantino) and it’s appropriate. This is a lighthearted, lightweight lark about a trio of BMX-obsessed teens who stumble across a cache of illegal walkie-talkies (where they’ve been dropped off for a gang of bank robbers) and end up running (or rather, furiously pedaling and stunt-riding) from the gang and then turning the tables for the reward money. 16-year-old Nicole Kidman makes her feature debut as the plucky red-headed girl who team up with a pair of fun-loving best friends (Angelo D’Angelo as the good-looking kid and James Lugton as the goofy horror movie buff) to make money for their own BMX bikes and David Argue (later of “Razorback”) and John Ley (one of the thugs in “The Road Warrior”) are the comic thugs who provide the slapstick in the chases.
There’s not much to the film and it’s definitely for younger audiences, but Trenchard-Smith directs the BMX action with high energy and gets a lot of personality and camaraderie from the teen actors. Future Oscar-winner John Seale photographs it well and it is definitely out of the eighties, as the synthesizer score will attest. The DVD and Blu-ray releases feature commentary by director Brian Trenchard-Smith and the 40-minute “BMX Buddies” with the director, writers, producer and grown co-star James Lugton discussing the picture (Trenchard-Smith recalls how he expanded Kidman’s role once he saw her “star power” on the screen and had his bad guys improv slapstick gags to up the comic quotient). Also features a clip of Nicole Kidman on the kids show “Talent Time” and the trailer.