Awfully Good: X-Men: Generation X
Generation X (1996)
Director: Jack Sholder
Stars: Finola Hughes, Jeremy Ratchford, Matt Frewer
Not every mutant gets to go to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. The rejects are sent to their satellite campus that's probably almost nearly as good. Maybe.
Four years before Bryan Singer brought X-MEN to the big screen, Fox first tried to turn Marvel's mutants in to a television series aimed at a hip, young audience. (Similar to that aborted JUSTICE LEAGUE series.) It never got past this made-for-TV movie, but the results are no less amazing—a hidden gem of poor decision-making, a hilariously wrong-headed script, and a bad guy who uses his power of mind control to make people fart uncontrollably.
Still a better costume choice than black leather.
If you're not familiar with the Generation X comics, it was an early 90s X-Men spinoff featuring lesser known young characters that didn't even make it in to the New Mutants. The movie is pretty faithful to the source material: Emma Frost and Banshee train a group of new recruits to harness their powers in preparation for an impending battle between humans and mutants. (A TV news report early on blames mutants for the AIDS epidemic, so the threat is super serious.) The film is supposed to take place at Professor X's secondary satellite school in order to explain why no other recognizable characters are featured, but ironically they shot this at the exact same mansion they used in the Singer films, making it nice and confusing for everyone. So while you won't see Wolverine or any of his friends walking around, you do get:
Though not traditionally canon, the Jolly Green Giant was a welcome addition to the X-Men.
- Emma Frost: A telekinetic nymphomaniac who uses her powers to convince people she's in Hootie and the Blowfish. Early on we also see her create wind and lightning, so I guess she's also Storm.
- Banshee: A really loud guy with a terrible Irish accent.
- Jubilee: An Asian American girl who shoots poorly animated fireworks out of her hands.Played by James Van Der Beek's future wife, this version of the character has the last name Lee but is definitely not Asian.
- Skin: A painful Hispanic stereotype with stretchy appendages.
- Refrax: A Billy Idol-lookalike who can shoot lasers from his eyes and also has x-ray vision. His big emotional moment in the film comes when he decides NOT to use his powers to look at a girl's panties.
- Mondo: A muscular jock who hates Jell-O and is suspiciously a little too homophobic. ("No one's touching my butt!")
- Buff: A girl whose superpower is that she's really muscular for a female.
- Monet Yvette Clarisse Maria Therese St. Croix: A girl with a terrible name and equally terrible power ("Level 8 invulnerability").
Stretch Armstrong always got a little handsy when drunk.
Ironically, the worst part of the show is the members of the title generation. None of the young characters are particularly interesting and the TV budget only allows for them to use their powers for about 10 seconds during the final fight. Instead you get 90 minutes of cliché teen drama and relationships. Luckily, GENERATION X has a highly entertaining villain to even things out. Matt Frewer (Max Headroom) plays Dr. Tresh, a psychotic scientist who invents a way to invade people's dreams and make them do his bidding in real life. (The writers, not understanding how the human subconscious works, seem to think that everyone's dreams take place in the same alternate dimension.) He tests out his device in the most natural way possible—going to a corporate board meeting and making all his bosses lose control of their bowels at exactly 10 a.m.
If that sounds delightfully silly, then you're in luck because Frewer channels early 90s Jim Carrey in his performance here, wearing his yellow suit from THE MASK and having the exact same mannerisms and motivation as The Riddler in BATMAN FOREVER (released the year before). However, it's all fun and games until Thresh goes from zany to legitimately terrifying in the end, threatening to rape a girl every night in her dreams and cornering another girl and saying "Hang on, honey. I'm going to get my Barry White albums."
And that was the last time anyone tried hustle Cyclops at Billiards.
There's plenty of other terrible stuff to enjoy about GENERATION X, from the dreadful script ("I'm a bad girl and I've got some nasty mutant tricks, so back off!") to the jungle-themed musical number to the team's badass X-vehicle being a very sensible and safe Volvo. It's also painfully 90s in every respect: Every scene is bathed in terrible Day-Glo lights and scored with a wailing guitar solo. There are dated references to Hootie and the Blowfish and Quentin Tarantino. And it also has the political incorrectness (i.e. RACISM) of that time period. Take a shot every time someone says something vaguely racist to one of the minority mutants or the bad guy calls someone an "inter-dimensional wetback." (This aired on network television, FYI.)
Cinematography by Zebediah Killgrave.
But perhaps strangest of all is how weirdly sexual GENERATION X is. Aside from all the villainous rape threats, there's a constant uncomfortable sexual tension between Emma Frost and Banshee. He calls her an "over-sexed mind-witch" and she wakes him by referring to him as "lover" and threatening to telekinetically sex him up while he sleeps. Emma is also always wearing lingerie and other inappropriate outfits, even though she's around underage minors literally all day everyday. During class she even says to one of her students, "Just imagine that you're playing with yourself, Kurt." (And no, I didn't take that out of context.) However, the worst is this: apparently the first thing they do to any new students at this mutant academy is force the kids to take off all of their clothes in front of each other so Emma Frost can perform a bizarre, invasive medical exam. I truly did not expect to have to deal with an awkward topless scene involving Jubilee in this X-Men movie.
Roman Polanski's XXX-Men ended up being the series' highest grossing film.
Between the partial nudity and the random F-bombs and, it's no wonder GENERATION X was never picked up to series. Which is unfortunate because this is so entertainingly bad, I would definitely watch an entire season of it.
Some of the best teenage dialogue, as well as a collection of the bad guy's most obvious Jim Carrey impersonations.
An evil farting demonstration, some of the craptastic stretching special effects, and other action moments.
Nothing too X-citing.
Take a shot or drink every time:
- There's Sega product placement
- Thresh calls someone "Bobby Boy"
- Someone says something racially insensitive
- Someone says or does something sexually suggestive
- You notice a Dutch angle
Double shot if:
- Skin stretches his arms
Thanks to Franklin for suggesting this week's movie!
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|Extra Tidbit:||Fans of the show Reaper should look out for a cameo by a young Tyler Labine.|