“Standing On the Edge of Love” by Bill Bowersock and John Philip Shenale. I have no clue if that’s the real title of the song as they don’t clarify in the credits. This is a pretty good 80s movie song but has little to do with the movie at all. That shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the motivational lyrics or hearing how the Betamax is getting chewed up and destroyed.
Interesting Dated References: Kids being allowed to run around at night and not being seriously punished; kids running around during the day and playing outside; the popularity of BMX bikes; Peter Billingsley.
Best Line: None.
Social Context: None. Unless having a magical dirt bike was some type of national social issue that I forgot about. This is a kids move from the 80s so there is no social context at all. Technically, you could say that the magical dirt bike has an anti-establishment stance against big banks, embezzlement, and corporate strong-arming, but then you’d be arguing that a magical dirt bike has thoughts and opinions about such things.
Summary: Casting a post-Christmas Story Peter Billingsley in your direct-to-video kids movie about a magical dirt bike must have seemed like a solid bet, especially in 1985.
But I’m not sure if the bet paid off since I never recall seeing or hearing about this movie and I was their target. Or it’s possible it actually did pay off and the movie is well known, but I haven’t seen it because I grew up in an isolated religious shit hole with a nuclear power plant and only one video store that usually only had one copy of each film.
Young Jack Simmons (Billingsley) is given a $50-bill by his mother and sent off to the grocery store. Apparently she has no fears about the rampant kidnappers or satanic ritual murder cults that were going on in the mid-80s. Instead of buying groceries, Jack buys an old beat-up dirt bike. The punishment for this offense is to get sent to his room. He doesn’t get hit, slapped, pushed down to the ground, or told he is worthless.
I can’t tell if this is a crowd of people watching a dirt bike race in the 80s or if it’s an Urban Outfitters ad. So after cleaning off his magical bike late at night, Jack goes riding around town. During this trip he runs from the police and harasses a bike gang.
The bike communicates with Jack by making weird exhaust-farting sounds. The next day his mother goes to pawn the bike and Jack goes to play in little league. The bike misses Jack and returns itself to him.
Not only are they walking around with big wieners on their shirts, but Jack’s friend Peewee is also carrying a Nash skateboard, and as we all know, owning a Nash makes him a poser. A poseur with a big wiener mascot on his shirt.
After little league, everyone goes to Mike’s Doghouse. Mike is their coach, financial backer, and caterer. He lets all the kids come to his restaurant and throw food everywhere to celebrate the game. What a bunch of assholes.
Later Mike gets informed that the big-wig banker, Mr. Hodgkins of Hodgkins’ Bank, plans to foreclose on the Doghouse and build a new bank on the premises. Not to be left out of the action, Jack and his magical, farting bike go to the bank and confront Hodgkins.
At that very moment, Hodgkins happens to be interviewing Jack’s mom for a job. It’s worth noting The Dirt Bike Kid has a weird tie to the early HBO series Not Necessarily The News. Two actors from the series appear above: Stuart Pankin as crabby banker Mr. Hodgkins, and Ann Bloom as Jack’s single, jobless mother. Additionally, the director of The Dirt Bike Kid, Hoite C. Caston, did 32 episodes of Not Necessarily The News.
So Jack persuades Mr. Hodgkins not to foreclose, and then all the kids at the Doghouse praise Jack and throw a bunch more food around. But the bank decides to foreclose anyway.
The flatulating bike causes a bunch of other boring shit (or “hijinks,” as the excited writers of the script referred to it) to happen. Then Jack hacks into the Hodgkin’s Bank computer system and it looks like this:
Pretty hi-tech for 1985. Jack realizes the foreclosure is part of some real estate scam and brings the truth to the people right before the Doghouse is demolished.
Then there is a big pie fight and Mr. Hodgkins agrees to let the Doghouse stay and decides to build his bank around the Doghouse, essentially creating a Nail House.
The movie ends with Jack high-fiving some new kid who has started riding the farting dirt bike. High five, freeze frame.
Poster and Box Art: This is a good illustration. It’s totally fucking 80s. Billingsley looks like himself and you get a good feeling of what the movie is going to be about.
Oddly enough, on this European box cover they decided to give Billingsley a much more befuddled and dumbfounded expression. This is probably because the British hate Americans.
Availability: It seems like you can get DVDs on ebay. I can’t tell if they are official or gray-area bootlegs, though. I’m not going to spend anymore time discussing this movie, it’s totally ridiculous.