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Barking mad, inept, and for external reasons, a potential camp classic,
This review is from: New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking (Dub Sub) (DVD) (1988) (Region 1) (US Import) (NTSC) (DVD)
At once thoroughly lame and utterly insane, this 1988 US adaptation of Astrid Lindgren's much-loved character is given whatever vitality it has by Tami Erin's barkingly perky performance as the redheaded heroine. It was directed by Ken Annakin, a veteran of second-rate Hollywood crowd-pleasers (Battle of the Bulge, Swiss Family Robinson) towards the end of his career, when he clearly hadn't the vitality to fight for better production values. This film has the worst opening titles I've ever seen, in which an unskilfully-drawn Pippi appears in various still images in various situations, none of which will occur in the actual movie; sometimes, a second Pippi is superimposed on the first one in such a way that you can still clearly see bits of the original one underneath.
Nevertheless, Ms Erin -- who won a Razzie for her performance, probably more out of anti-ginger prejudice than anything else -- gives it all and more as a character who is clearly not of mortal cloth. This Pippi is not only sassy, eccentric and superhumanly strong, she can also convert a homemade glider into an autogyro by standing in it holding rotor blades and spinning around on the spot, kind of like the way Snoopy used his own ears to become a helicopter. The film nevertheless died at the box office, and Ms Erin's mainstream career never recovered.
No wonder. No matter how you cut Pippi she's a subversive force of nature, and enough of that is carried over into this mostly badly-acted, cheaply-produced movie to make it a very, very strange film indeed, at least to eyes who have forgotten how bad most 80s kids movies were.
Still, it'd normally be only recommendable as something that will keep you and a child occupied while flaked out on a sofa recovering from vomiting bug, except for one of those curious twists that may yet end up elevating to camp classic status. In 2013, Tami Erin, who had been playing small parts here and there and doing modelling for a couple of decades, resurfaced on the internet rather conspicuously as an extremely fit-looking 38-year-old who happened to be appearing in her own sex tape. (She said that it had been pirated by an ex-boyfriend and she was releasing it herself so as to pre-empt him, so the gossip sites were sure that that's not the reason.) In any case, Ms Erin's latter-day celebrity does lend this film a certain frisson, if you're an adult, at any rate. It can't be long before hipster cinemas start late-night Rocky Horror-style double bills of both this and Ms Erin's more recent star performance. And good for her, too; what idiot said that there are no second acts in American lives?