BMX Bandits/Review

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Apart from its reputation as a perennial children's film classic, BMX Bandits is also famous for Quentin Tarantino’s quote describing it. Having been a champion advocate of Brian Trenchard-Smith, he had famously said, "If I was an Australian, BMX Bandits would be our version of The Goonies." That seems like a tall claim at first, but the comparison is very much valid. Although it doesn't have that touch of fantasy with the pirate ships and hidden treasures, the two movies follow the same paradigm of pitting meddling pesky adventurous kids against bumbling thieves, which is one of the principal reasons it worked. Apart from lots and lots of BMX bike stunts of course.


While he is famous for his stunt-heavy movies, it is not surprising that for a considerable section of Brian Trenchard-Smith's admirers, their favorite movie might be this children's flick about three teenagers thwarting robbers and having fun on their BMX bikes. It is a pure wish-fulfillment fantasy that appeals to your memory of a romanticized childhood.

BMX Bandits is about three kids (including future Oscar winner Nicole Kidman) who accidentally find a stash of police radios hidden by a gang of robbers for their heists. The precarious kids then decide to sell these fancy radios for a quick buck, thus getting entangled in the robbers' schemes, as they are out to recover their missing property. They also come under the radar of the local cops who have started listening in on their radio conversations. There is a funny moment when a lady cop realizes they are dealing with children instead of hardcore criminals from their nicknames or, as she explains, "BMX talks".


As per the director, he had made two choices that helped enhance the movie immensely. The first was to age the lead trio from 10-year-olds to the 15-16 age bracket. Second, he set the film in Sydney instead of Melbourne, which was the initial location chosen. Both these factors helped increase the scope of the action while also changing the group dynamics between the lead actors.

In a scene that proclaimed her stardom to the world, Nicole Kidman takes the new bike that she bought with the money she made selling the radios for a spin. Her two co-stars watch her utterly smitten and charmed, and by default, so are the audience. The scene almost screams out that this young lady is a future star.


There has been a minor criticism from certain quarters that the movie is not realistic enough, i.e., and the kids never look like they are in any kind of real danger (even when a bad guy is brandishing a knife at Nicole Kidman). It is an issue the makers of most children's movies face, whether to make it realistic or just plain crazy.

The same dilemma was something even someone like Steven Spielberg faced when he digitally altered the guns in E.T.'s famous chase scene to walkie-talkies for the re-release to make it seem less threatening. But you will be glad that Smith chose to keep it light here instead of trying to add realism for the heck of it. Even in the climactic showdown, which ends in a bubble bath, the ultimate choice of weapon for the children is simple baking flour.


Brian Trenchard-Smith has a point when he said that it is a throwback to an idealized childhood which does not exist anymore but is something that many would love to go back to. Therein lies its appeal and a massive part of its nostalgia factor.

Alif Majeed is a contributor to Grindhouse Cinema Database. You can find a list of all his reviews HERE.

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