Welcome back to Boomb Tube! The weekly column chronicling comics’ effects on television and, more recently, the utter horror of made-for-TV movies from the 1990’s. This week: we conclude our look at 1996’s Generation X.
When we last left off, Max Headroom had just caused all of his potential investors to violently vacate their bowels at a meeting, Skin had discovered an Animus in the Xavier’s Mansion basement, and all the other kids were angsty or something. One of the evil executives that Max made poop himself is back at the boardroom discussing with the others how to take out Headroom when Headroom himself appears and reveals that Evil Executive is in a dream being visited by Headroom who is in his own Animus. Evil Executive tries to explain his subconscious to Max but Headroom, in the best part of this movie, adopts a Southern Belle accent and mind-controls E.E.’s sleeping body to jump out his bedroom window. From this point on, we are no longer viewing the New Coke spokesman Headroom, but rather that one that hijacked a TV signal in the 80’s to scream for 2 minutes.
Meanwhile back at Xavier’s Academy, Angelo shows the Animus to Jubilee and they both go into the dreamworld. Jubilee goes first and dreams about her parents regretting sending their daughter away. Such a sweet moment is ruined by Max Headroom, who is in his 40’s, when he comes in and hits on the 15-year old. Jubilee is understandably upset, but Skin is obviously not concerned by his recently traumatized friend as he goes under too. There, Headroom tells Skin, in another Dixie-fried accent, that he can get Skin’s crush to fall in love with him. Back in the waking world, every other board member who crapped themselves apparently called the police on Headroom and he is taken out of his dream machine which, as earlier exposition noted, trapped his consciousness in the dream world. The following morning, Angelo and Jubilee compare notes on their dream experiences. Angelo is pumped because of Headroom’s offer to get the girl and Jubilee is not-so pumped because the guy who coined the phrase “Catch the Wave” hit on a minor.
Later, at a local carnival, 90’s Cyclops, who looks like the between the lead singer of The Offsprng , goes on a date with Buff. Unfortunately, 90’s’ kick in and he sees that underneath her clothes Buff is very… Buff… fine. When talking to Mondo about how he accidently saw her thigh, Buff and Jubilee walk by and Buff runs away crying. At the same carnival, Skin’s Crush (which is a fantastic band name) notices Angelo and instead of still being traumatized by having a dream about that guy who pretended to be an A.I. that liked soda asks Angelo to hang out somewhere private. Unfortunately, Crush’s cliquey friends don’t approve and get into a fight with Angelo and the rest of Generation X. Everyone gets arrested by the greatest cop in history who, in the middle of the fight, flatly declares, “Alright we are going to jail!”
At the station (not a jail because the cop who delivered that statement was taken off the force for being too much of a wild card), Emma Frost picks up the kids by threatening to expel Skin. All the other kids then step in and say that if she’s going to expel Skin, she’ll have to expel all of them because a John Hughes movie was playing in their cell. Banshee shrugs and Emma begrudgingly accepts.
That same night, Skin goes into his crush’s dreams so they can go dance to swing music in a dream tropical forest. That all happens. They don’t even establish it as a dream at first so we’re just left to assume that Skin took his one opportunity to be alone with the girl he likes to break into a zoo to dance to ragtime. After his date leaves, Skin is visited by Max Headroom who wants his help in getting back into his own body. Skin’s hesitant at first, but has to comply when Max Headroom threatens to mind-rape his sister. That is the least OK sentence I have ever written.
Skin breaks into the minimal detention facility Headroom’s body is being held at. There, he attaches some Animus stuff to Headroom who snaps back to consciousness. His first action? Scare away the security guards by pretending to be a zombie. Sure, it’s a minimal security prison so maybe the guards aren’t so bright, but really? Guard just had to run out of the building because some guy was doing a shoddy zombe shuffle? He didn’t even call for reinforcements or if he did, he called them long after Max Headroom kidnapped Skin to harvest his brain to power his dream machine to make it… something? The Animus works fine enough as it is, he doesn’t need to lobotomize a kid.
Anyway, Skin does some psychic straining stuff and his mental projection tells Jubilee to save him from Max Headroom (who is preparing to opearate on Skin by wearing some red elaborate Kimono gown because he’s fantastic). Jubilee wakes up everyone and explains the situation to prepare for a rescue after 90’s Cyclops decides that now is the best time to tell Buff that he doesn’t mind a little beef on his main dish if ya know wottamsayan. Emma Frost gives some exposition about how since Headroom has been in the dreamworld for so long he may now be a mutant. I honestly do not know how to respond to that. Why does the Dreamworld have anything to do with mutant powers? Were they setting up for the botched Sandman vs. X-Force crossover? Either way, Emma Frost uses her full set of “Hey does this sound psychic? It does? Only a little bit? Screw it I’m going to lunch.” powers to open a portal to Max’s hideout which they know the location of because screw it. There, Generation X beat up Max while he hits on the female members of the team, and then they throw him into a wall, which sends Headroom back to the dreamscape!(?) Max crawls back out in glorious green screeen god mode and demands Emma. Emma shows up and is prepared to sacrifice herself to take out Headroom when Skin tackles Max into the void of Dreamscape. Everyone is concerned for ten seconds and then he stretches himself back into the room. Looks like Angelo’s body isn’t the only thing devoid of tension!
Back at Xavier’s Mansion who, by the way, never shows up throughout this entire movie and so we are left to assume that Emma and Banshee murdered him and stole his school, the team is playing some Yu-Gi-Oh card game; the rules of which seem to consist of making up random magicky sounding words while slamming cards down. Banshee and Emma come in to introduce the team’s new uniforms, modeled by Buff who no longer has self-esteem issues. She also no longer has the body of the Russian bodybuilder they got to do that one shot last week, but the movie’s almost over so the director cares as much as I do. Finally, at the minimum security detention facility, the camera zooms in on the now-contained Max’s eyes revealing that the dreamscape is still inside of his head. And with that the credits roll. One last note: I completely missed whoever this character was (probably Jubilee’s dad) but someone in this movie is named Jim Lee. Fine.
This movie was terrible. I don’t know why I felt I had to actually watch it to verify that claim, but wow. Just everything about the movie; the crappy “I am a teen-ager!” acting, the way the lighting makes every set piece look like a laser tag arena, Max Headroom; screams “This is a movie from the 1990’s”. Like most superhero movies from this time period, Generation X feels like it was created exclusively to sell comics/action figures/Sandman vs. X-Force. Each actor here looks like they can’t wait to go back home except for Max Headroom who is quite possibly the only redeeming character in this movie. Granted, he’s basically playing himself but in such a bland movie he is a breath of fresh air. There’s one scene where he talks about how much he wants to give Angelo a haircut and it’s quite possibly the best part of this piece of crap.
The special effects are serviceable but they’re by no stretch of the imagination “good”. Anytime Skin used his powers, I had to pause the movie I was laughing so hard. Nearly every part of this movie is green screened which, when combined with the aforementioned atrocious lighting, makes it so painful to watch. Not to mention the terrible writing and acting. “He’s been exposed to the dreamscape for so long that he is now a mutant” isn’t a line in the script, it’s a plea for help.
Overall, Generation X is an abomination that, like Milli Vanilli, should have been left in the 90’s where we found it.
Review Score: 2/10.