So this may be our last video review and it comes to us from good old Just For Kids.
I’d like to take this opportunity to reiterate a few things about the home video era. It’s the three reasons why my generation got to see a whole bunch of crazy movies nobody would have ever otherwise heard of:
1) Above all else, the accursed Animation Age Ghetto.
2) VHS companies like Just For Kids, Family Home Entertainment, and Children’s Video Library (not to mention the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon) would release basically any animated movie they could get their hands on to home video.
3) Back in the day, you could find videos for rental just abut anywhere. This was before the big chain stores. Locally, we had an automotive parts store and a few shelves in the supermarket. Such venues weren’t too picky about what they carried and companies like Just For Kids could thrive.
Frequent readers of the wonderful “Ask the A.V. Club” feature on The Onion website have ample evidence to suggest that this kind of thing, complicated by the fact that these movies are damn near impossible to find on DVD today, did a right number on my generation’s collective psyche.
One of my personal “what the hell was that thing my sister and I saw once or twice as little kids and I swear it messed up our heads?” movie turned out to be this. “Gallavants”, as frequently promised by the wonderful Just For Kids trailer park, is the story of a Smurf-like village/colony of ants. Kind of like “A Bug’s Life”. Let’s watch it again after twenty-odd years, shall we?
The Best Parts: (Note that certain DVD versions have had scenes cut for length.)
1 minute in – What better place to start a children’s film than in the obstetrics ward, right?
At least the babies aren’t all gross and larva-y
3 minutes in – Kabumps?
4 minutes in – Okay, one thing I really need to warn you about this movie, should you seek it out for whatever reason, and it is probably the key reason why it has haunted me for so long: These characters never stop singing and EVERY DAMN ONE of the songs will get stuck in your head. I’ve had the tunes in my head for the past twenty-odd years. Now I remember how the entire songs go. Lovely.
7 minutes in – Hey how about we reveal our fictional language through a song?
15 minutes in – Okay, I’m still not clear on this “kabump” thing.
17 minutes in – (Very long awkward pause as Nessie debates how to put the question that is plaguing her out there into the World.)
Uh… this just dawned on me… are the kabumps… the Gallavant’s… reproductive organs?
I mean, the kabump is located at the end of the Gallavant’s abdomen, it pops out as a sign the Gallavant has reached maturity, and if you do not have one, you aren’t allowed to enter a club because you are obviously not an adult. So is the whole movie about a cute little ant who is struggling to earn his balls?
(Note to our entomologist readers: yeah, I know they’re not called balls on insects, and I know that most non-mammals do not even *have* testicles, at least not as we know them. I call Rule of Funny, so chill out.)
19 minutes in – “And now, ‘The Grumpy Snail.’”
21 minutes in – “Whoops, there go my fake balls!”
26 minutes in – Aw, it’s like “St. Elmo’s Fire!”
I mean, UGH! It’s like “St. Elmo’s Fire.”
27 minutes in – “Hey, you don’t have any balls!”
32 minutes in – Damn, Antonym, can’t you let that issue go for a minute?
34 minutes in – “Wow, look at our balls! Also, whatever these would be on the females!”
37 minutes in – I just noticed how much louder the songs are than the dialogue. No wonder they’ve been stuck in my head all these years.
39 minutes in – Aww, she’s like Amy Mann in “Magnolia”.
42 minutes in – Now if I am remembering things right, this is just about where things start going completely insane. In this tale of a young boy trying to become a man by *literally* growing a pair.
44 minutes in – Well, that’s… that’s something. What happens if this thing malfunctions?
45 minutes in – Yeah, who better to trust with your unborn children than an irresponsible scrub with no balls?
47 minutes in – “The unhatched egg has rolled down a tunnel full of goodness knows what! I have to sing an endless, pointless song before we run after it to save it though.”
49 minutes in – I can’t be alone in hearing the climax of her song as, “Butt! Butt! Butt! Butt! Butt! Butt! Butt! BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTT! BU-UTT!!!”
I am beginning to wonder about the people who wrote this…
51 minutes in – Submitted for your approval, the most deeply f***ed up scene in any Just For Kids video. Seems pretty much designed to scar a kid’s mind forever. A YouTube user was nice enough to upload the whole film and the scene in question can be viewed here. (Also includes the “Butt! Butt! Butt!!!” song.)
53 minutes in – “Yay, I found my balls!”
54 minutes in – There is really no way in hell a kid could watch this and not be irretrievably warped.
56 minutes in – I can think of well over two-dozen reasons why being an amphisbaena (a creature with a head on both ends; think “CatDog”) would suck.
59 minutes in – And this song –which the damn thing is STILL SINGING- is going to list every last damn one of those reasons! Except “what happens when you want to start dating?” and “how do you go to the bathroom?”
1 hour in – “Durr, it’s my balls!”
1 hour, 4 minutes in – That poor little unhatched Gallavant is going to have SO many issues.
1 hour, 6 minutes in – OW!!!
1 hour, 9 minutes in – “I must expose his balls! Because I have seen his balls and what they can do! And his balls are very weird!”
I am still wondering about the people who wrote this.
1 hour, 10 minutes in – God, can they have five minutes in this movie when a character *doesn’t* break into song?
1 hour, 12 minutes in – “Look at my balls!”
1 hour, 15 minutes in – “Why, yes, I have been spying on you all along!”
1 hour, 17 minutes in – Wait… WHAT?!? Are you saying that Shando’s kabump is actually a mutated undead baby?!?
1 hour, 19 minutes in – STOP F-ING SINGING WTF!?!.
1 hour, 20 minutes in – “Yes, his balls were the real hero. Also, I do not care if I ruin some kid’s life just so I can overtake that old dude’s job.”
1 hour, 22 minutes in – Chug! Chug! Chug!
1 hour, 24 minutes in – “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH HIS BALLS!?!?!”
1 hour, 28 minutes in – Oh noes the gloves are coming off scandal!!!
You see, obviously the Gallavants have no hang-ups about their reproductive organs (that should be clear by now). They’re ants, after all. Only the Queen gets to have any fun so everyone else’s kabumps must be nonfunctional and, therefore, sex isn’t a taboo subject for them. It never even comes up!
But on the other hand, according to the prologue, the Gallavants wear *gloves* right from the moment immediately after they hatch. Which leads me to think that hands are the Gallavants’ “private parts”. I haven’t the slightest idea why; maybe every creature with human-like intelligence HAS to have something about themselves that they find embarrassing.
And that was me putting WAY too much scrutiny into this stupid movie.
1 hour, 31 minutes in – What?!
1 hour, 32 minutes in – What measure is a hideous mutated undead baby blob thing?
1 hour, 33 minutes in – (One more for the road.) “Oh, I have my balls now! Look at it shine! Watch me rub it! It makes me feel awesome!”
1 hour, 34 minutes in – Hey, it’s that guy from way-ass back in the prologue!
Classic Lines of Dialogue:
“Shando, I am VERY disappointed in you. You never told me that your kabump was so, so… GIFTED!” – The Queen
Things I Learned from this Movie/Book/Whatever:
* – I am not above making ball jokes. <:/
* – Blindness can be “washed away”. (Repeat: that scene is designed to scar the mind.)
* – If you live in a place where everyone is basically the same, for example you are an ant in a colony, it’s perfectly okay to give any non-conformists a really hard time.
* – I you failed to reach puberty at around the same time most people in your social circle did, it was all your teacher’s fault. Somehow.
Things That Can Save Any Movie:
Cool Creatures? Alright, I’ll admit the Gallavants are cute. For ants. Anyway, they’ve got the right number of limbs, and that’s always a plus.
Good Soundtrack? Don’t even go there.
Hot Guys? Unless anthropomorphic ants are your thing. Anthropomorphic ants with a preoccupation with asses, at that.
Pretty Scenery? Yes, very “Smurfs”-ish.
Nifty Animation/Special Effects/Illustrations? You know, the animation is quite good for a Just For Kids film.
Drinking Game Potential? Here it comes. Drink when they say kabump. Drink again if you start to wonder about the writers.
Head Movie Potential? I’m actually going to say no, because the mind-scarring scene resembles a very, VERY bad head trip too much.
Danny spreading boric acid around the foundation of his house. Bwahaha.
A Marvel Productions / Mediafare Entertainment Film made in 1984. Based on characters created by Kersti Frigell and Annie Shaw, written by Jack Mendelsohn and directed by Art Vitello.
TV Tropes page
As a very strange coda, it seems the Gallavant characters that we Americans only know from this one weird movie are much-beloved in their native Scandinavia. It’s a whole franchise with the goal of getting young children excited about natural science. Cool.
Though it also makes me wonder about all those other Just For Kids movies…