BODY TROOPERS, AKA: CHASING THE KIDNEYSTONE (Idsoe, 1996)
A decade after Joe Dante made INNER SPACE, a Norwegian woman made a movie about a boy and his grandpa’s kidney stone. What follows is a disturbing art film about bodily functions and fluids. Get ready for a swim! (WARNING: gross stuff ahead)
Simon lives with his grandpa, a widowed saxophonist, and they have a self-pitying stuffed bear that talks like a hot dog salesman. The night before grandpa’s jazz band reunion show (whom grandma sang for) he wakes up Simon with the kind of groaning that a football to the crotch or bad burrito will induce. Feeling helpless, the boy and the whiny bear bust out a chemistry set and shrink Simon to microbial size.
It all starts with grandpa’s mouth (specifically his giant lip and tongue). Simon steps over taste buds the size of basketballs, some of which talk. A lot. They even have telephones.
They are disturbed by the boy and want to know how he tastes. Bitter bud calls the Brain.
But Brain is super busy with some other BS and doesn’t send the message in time for Simon to slip past. Next we meet a boy with shark fins on his head who seems to be a white blood cell. He is bathing in a geyser of grandpa spit.
He’s bossy and calls Simon a dork after falling to his near death in the lungs (don’t worry, grandpa coughs). When you think this movie can’t get any more wrong? It gets wronger. Simon strips to his tighty whitey skivvies and pumps up a spit gland with his foot for a rinse and a refreshing drink. Um, gross?
We also meet “bad breath”, a smudgy fellow that resembles a flea whose redeeming quality is a fumigating pouch that makes the creepy taste buds pass out and shut up.
After passing by the vocal chord pipe organist with a spiral hairdo that operates on macabre drawings of grandpa screaming, rude shark cell boy and Simon wriggle into grandpa’s cigarette-loving lungs (AKA: La Brea Lung Pits). There are ancient alveoli with dreadlocks and ragged mops that serve no other purpose than to smear the lumpy tar around. A young alveoli lass is swinging on a lung tendril (didn’t know about those, did you!) and joins their quest. A kid-style love triangle ensues.
They make their way to the heart and discover the Princess, who is sealed up in an aorta tower. After consulting a horde of misc body parts they discover grandpa ails from a pokey crystalline kidney stone that can be dismantled with good ole pee water. They work their way to the anus and bladder through the stomach, but only after slippity sliding down the esophagus lined with green bile.
They go for a nice swim in the stuff, too, but get plucked out by what appears to be a bear trap orb and end up in the appendix where a witchy head mistress punishes her black-eyed worker men for craving sweets.
She vomits on anyone who defies her.
Finally we are in the bladder where a massive crystalline orb splinters off into kidney stone yeti’s that somersault and yell “booga booga!!”. The fight scenes with these creatures are epic and the costumes are actually quite incredible. After collecting enough urine in a stolen fumigating pouch (from our pal bad breath), they spray down the booga crystal ninjas and finally, the big stone itself.
Grandpa takes a wiz and passes the stone. After splashing in a river of pee, they have a good laugh.
They make their way back to the heart, where the princess plops down from her perch to thank them. And whaddya know, its grandma.
All in all, this movie is super trippy and (score) the highest in budget yet reviewed! The sets were phenomenal with occasional accents of simple CGI and claymation (a flock of hormones like pterydactyls from the mind of Ray Harryhausen). The costumes were imaginative and complex, as was the make-up and lighting. Ultimately it was filmed, lit and directed well but acted stiffly by three kiddos who looked lost in their mom’s closet for two hours. But it is so damn weird. My daughter sort of liked it? But wanted to know “why the little shark boy is so mean”. She’s got me there. Anatomy nerds and LSD users should really dig this movie.
In junior high I was shown the MIRACLE OF LIFE documentary, which was effective birth control for many years. To instill basic hygiene by fear, show your kids this movie. They will learn all about bad breath, UTI’s and stomach bile, and top it off with a bonus long hot shower to wash the movie away.