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22 Things We Learned from the Turbo Kid Commentary

By  · Published on February 17th, 2016

One of the many joys of film festivals is discovering new talents through their debut features, and Sundance 2015 offered a few that immediately made us fans including Robert Eggers’ The Witch, Tali Shalom-Ezer’s Princess, and RKSS’ Turbo Kid.

RKSS ‐ a collective made up of Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard, and Yoann-Karl Whissell ‐ have spent years making short films, and their first feature is every bit the gory, goofy, and entertaining adventure those shorts would have you expect. It was one of last year’s genre highlights, and it just recently hit home video. The new Blu-ray is loaded with special features including a commentary track with all three writers/directors ‐ two tracks actually, one in French and one in English. I’m a mono-lingual American, so I gave a listen to the latter.

Keep reading to see what I heard on the Turbo Kid commentary.

Turbo Kid (2015)

Commentator: Anouk Whissell, Francois Simard, Yoann-Karl Whissell (directors/writers)

1. Every movie opens with production company logos, but Turbo Kid opens with a whopping fourteen company logos. It earned chuckles when I saw the film at the festival, but it’s a necessity. “That movie was done with a lot of love,” says Yoann, “and a lot of people joined in to make it possible.”

2. The opening salt tank effect was filmed in New Zealand and accomplished with a tank of salt water and milk injections. Most of the film was shot in Montreal.

3. Anouk created The Kid’s (Munro Chambers) journal/art book. She doesn’t seem too proud of the drawings, but the others point out that “you needed to feel like the kid drew it.”

4. Anouk and Francois are fans of duct tape and sing its praises including how it can fix anything, to which Yoann replies “It can’t fix a broken heart.”

5. The rat creature that scratches The Kid is an homage to Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive. The first attempt at creating the rat’s screeching was too adorable to the point that they felt bad for its demise, so they redid it to make the little bastard sound less cute.

6. Edwin Wright, the actor who plays Skeletron, makes a cameo at 5:54 as the man walking past The Kid. It was important for them to make his face visible seeing as Skeletron stays masked through the entire movie.

7. The white-bearded man judging the arm wrestling competition is the Whissells’ father.

8. Bagu is a reference to a character in Zelda 2, but apparently it’s also a nod to The Goonies? “In the French version there’s a character named Bagu.” What?!

9. They filmed in the springtime, but it was the worst to hit Montreal in ninety years. “It was minus ten [degrees] every day.”

10. Michael Ironside “tested” the fledgling directors in the early days of the production. “He wanted to make sure we knew where we going and stay true to our vision.”

11. The scene where Apple (Laurence Leboeuf) appears in The Kid’s bunker is trimmed substantially here for pacing, but they’d love to restore it in a possible director’s cut. “Maybe one day we’ll do like the Blade Runner thing and have seven types of cuts for Turbo Kid.”

12. Chambers improvised his “Of course it is” reply to Apple’s reveal of her name.

13. Most viewers ‐ including this one ‐ miss it, but the decrepit vehicle they find the garden gnome in is actually an old landscaper’s truck.

14. They point out Hobo With a Shotgun-director Jason Eisener’s cameo shortly before he dies a bloody death. “I hope some day day we get to die in one of his films.”

15. The scene with The Kid and Apple on the couch in the middle of nowhere was one of the first scenes they wrote for the feature. “We started writing it with the heart in mind and then added the craziness around it.”

16. They point out the scene of The Kid “burning VHS in an old 35mm print box” and suggest the metaphorical message is for viewers to decipher. “Wink wink.”

17. The Kid’s mother and father are played by Anouk and Simard, respectively.

18. Anouk bans the word “dinosaur” from the remainder of the commentary starting at the 1:07:40 mark.

19. Anouk sneezes in absolute silence and worries the other two. “It was difficult,” she says, giggling and audibly shocked to still be alive, “so I feel like my brain is going to pop out my eyes.”

20. When Zeus (Ironside) reveals himself to be a robot The Kid calls him a monster. “You made me what I am,” is Zeus’ reply, and it’s a line that Ironside enjoyed delivering as it’s apparently one that was cut from David Cronenberg’s Scanners before it release in the UK. “There were riots in England, and one of the protesters actually drilled, you know with a drill, in the middle of his brain, said that line and then drilled his head and killed himself, so they had to take out that scene from Scanners.”

21. Apple’s final demise was originally written to show her head half destroyed and clearly beyond repair. They’re happy they chose to go less dramatic with her physical damage though as it leaves the door open for her return in a possible sequel. Simard questions how they can bring her back seeing as this film ends with her becoming a star in the night sky, and Yoann says simply “the star will die.” Anouk is more hopeful suggesting that “maybe she can be both a star and a robot at the same time, can’t she?” Yoann, ever the sunny one, says simply “no, there are rules.”

22. Anouk breaks her own ban at 1:29:42. The others complain, but she replies “I took it away from you, and then I’m the one who brought it back.” Yoann is crushed as he had planned on saying it as the commentary track’s last word. “I enjoyed it,” says Anouk. “It’s the best ‘dinosaur’ I ever said.” Her victory is short-lived though as Yoann still sneaks it in at the very end.

Best in Context-Free Commentary

Final Thoughts

Turbo Kid is a fun, frequently ridiculous romp, and listening to these three offer commentary shows where that humor and energy comes from. They offer up on-set anecdotes, background information, and how-to explanations for some of the effects, and all of it is filtered through their lively chatter and clear affection for each other and the film. Better yet, the idea of a sequel is floated several times, and since Canadians are genetically incapable of lying we should expect to see Turbo Kid 2: Apple Bites Back sometime next year.

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.