Something Awful's Ben Platt was also brave enough to endure Nukie. Click the pic to check out his review.
Oh, Nukie. Nukie, Nukie, Nukie. Where do I start? Nukie is an imaginative romp in the world of sci-fi shoot me now flicks, finally arriving in 1993 after years of laying dormant because nobody wanted to torture the public with it. Ostensibly a children's movie, you'll be shocked at the insane lengths and efforts people with go through to put out something so 100% awful at every turn. I wouldn't call Nukie 'big budget,' but the creature effects and casting indicated that the studio expected a fairly good showing at the box office. It never even made it to the theaters. It barely made it to video, but the scope of its distribution was so small that even most of bad cinema's truly devoted haven't even heard of it.
Don't worry, though - this one's tough to recommend. I mean, on the surface, it sounds like such a perfect bad movie. You've got wacky aliens who talk to wild animals in the jungle, or alternately, get probed and pricked at by scientists over and over again. You've got Shaka Zulu, wearing sunglasses, condemning the tribe children to fatal survival contests. You've got supercomputers professing their love for braindead lady chemists. It's all here, spread out over a hefty hundred-minute platter. Where could it go wrong? Nukie seemed cater-made for this kind of audience.
The problem is, Nukie is incredibly annoying. Now I don't mean 'annoying' in the same sense most would when describing a mind-numbingly stupid plot development in what was supposed to be a 'great movie.' I mean literally annoying, as in, painful and grating to see and hear. There's points in Nukie where the title character will shout his lost brother's name, as loudly and for as long as possible, in succession of 200 times. I know that audience participation is something plenty of movie producers dream about, but I can't imagine many who'd want the audience telling their movies to shut the fuck up.
See, a good portion of Nukie takes place only when the alien is onscreen - no other speaking characters, and not much to play off on. My theory is that no lines were originally scripted for these scenes, but after filming, the director felt they needed some kind of narrative. Instead of putting together anything coherent, they just hired some guy who could vaguely, plausibly do a good enough 'alien impression' to ad lib his way through in the recording studio for however long Nukie remained in the scene. If you like hearing words that aren't even real words screamed at the highest decibels possible for fifteen minutes straight, Nukie is your bag.
Normal people who attempted to watch this flick likely suffered a few other grievances. It's got, bar none, the worst story ever told. Alien brothers land on Earth, get split up. One is taken prisoner and experimented on by naughty American government scientists, the other befriends a tribe in Africa. Alien brothers meet up again, fly off into space. AND THAT'S IT, THAT'S THE ENTIRE MOVIE. It's not fun to watch. Nothing really happens. It's just snot-nosed (again, literally) aliens longing for each other and screaming each other's names. FOR A HUNDRED MINUTES. What, you don't like that? YOU DON'T LIKE CAPS LOCK, YOU DON'T LIKE VIRTUAL SHOUTING? WELL AT LEAST MY SHOUTS AREN'T ILLUSTRATED WITH AN AUDIO TRACK VOICED BY A RETARD SCREAMING INTO A CONCH SHELL. Watch Nukie...then we'll talk about pain.
Here's the review, which is incredibly long and boring because that's what my prop should be when reviewing a movie like Nukie. I've also encoded, uploaded, published, and sexed up three video clips off the cassette so you won't think I'm lying about any of this. See you in 2,732 words.
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Nukie and his brother, Miko, are space aliens composed of pure energy who travel the stars in search of fun and adventure. By turning themselves into speedy bullets of light and flying through the universe, Nukie and Miko have been almost everywhere and seen most everything. Not Earth, though. Earth is new hat. They've never been here before, and with their curiosity piqued, the moon beasts come a little too close to our atmosphere and crash like idiots on two completely separate continents. Nukie, perhaps subconsciously craving zebra meat, lands in Africa. Miko, poor Miko, finds himself across the world in the land of the free and the brave people who cut up aliens.
For those curious, half of Nukie was filmed in Africa, with the other half being filmed in Germany. Neither country should be allowed to host movie scenes ever again.
Miko certainly drew the short end of the stick with his crash site, falling right into the hands of the evil 'Space Foundation,' who appear to be predominantly led by evil, murderous scientists who all take great joy in torturing extra-terrestrials. For reasons never explained, the Space Foundation's cars and equipment all bear NASA's name and logo. Quiet political commentary or the kind of oversight only an asshole could miss? You be the judge.
It doesn't take long for the Foundation to bring Miko in, performing numerous tests on his reflexes and body chemistry which, by some coincidence, are all the most painful types of tests there are. For a while, Miko handled the needles like a true pro. Once they started shoving pool filter tubes in his nose and those ceramic ashtrays shaped like houses kids make in middle school ceramics classes up his ass, he starts screaming for Nukie's help. LOUDLY. OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
Watched pots never boil, so I had to just mute the television and divert my attention for a few minutes until I was sure Miko had been tranquilized by the scientists. Sure, I might of missed one or two small plot points in the couse of the mute process, but at least my ears hadn't transformed into hands so they could grab a pack of matches and set themselves on fire. I was safe, and after a few minutes, Miko finally shut up.
Meanwhile, Nukie wakes up on the green plains of Africa, confused and unamused. He doesn't know where he is, much less what's happened to his brother. Fortunately, the aliens are able to broadcast brainwaves to one another, and since brainwaves are really just mental conversations in the same vain as the ones you'd have on any old telephone, Miko confides that they're holding him captive in America. Nukie has a mission! He must find America!
In a moment intended to delight kids that failed miserably, Nukie asks all his new animal pals where he can find America. Of course, turtles and zebras and giraffes can't talk, and instead disappoint Nukie by running away. I'm not sure how well the pictures illustrate it, but the alien effects are actually decent. I've seen worse, even by today's standards. If only they would've remembered that Nukie's mouth should move a little when he's speaking.
After getting nowhere with his search, Nukie retires to a shady rock. When he falls asleep, he glows blue and turns invisible. Sometimes, he'll even transform back into that flying meteoroid thing. Why is he searching for Miko on foot when he has the ability to fly through the air and zip across every last inch of the planet within mere hours? Because he's Nukie!
By the way, the movie becomes much wore from here on out, so don't let your guards down. Nukie, suffering from a bout of depression over his lost brother, starts talking about suicide.
'I hate this place. I wish the Earth would just...swallow me up. MIKO! MIKO! MIIIIKOOOO!' He then continues badmouthing our planet for a good five minutes, all the while complaining about how tired he is while crafting various metaphors to describe his deathwish. When you factor in all the cut scenes to Miko getting annihilated by the scientists' tests and assaults, Nukie is one depressing little movie. Speaking of Miko, let's find out what he's up to...
I really don't see where there'd be an attraction from kids towards this film. The larval-level dialogue clearly defines it as a children's movie, but why would anyone want to watch friendly, 'cute' creatures being tortured and stabbed at? Well I mean...I know why I wanna see it, but Nukie wasn't meant for me. The woman shown above draws blood from every part of Miko's body three times over, and it ain't just suggested, it's shown in full detail. Complete with close-ups of Miko screaming in pain, too. That's enough to pull the movie up by a full letter grade on my scorecard, but I don't think it would've brought on many reviews conductive to buying Nukie for happy seven-year-olds. It's scenes like this that'll have you scratching your head, but don't prick at your scalp too hard just yet - at least wait until the shock of seeing the mother from Mary Poppins playing an alien sympathizing nun in the middle of Africa wears off, first.
I don't know how Glynis Johns ended up on the cast of Nukie, but front-running explanations include senility and losing a bet. On the whole, she's completely unimportant to the plot. She does stuff, but it really doesn't affect the aliens' storyline in any way, shape or form. Despite this, it's always fun to watch old women in habits yelling at African tribesman to stop having sacrificial rituals. It's hard to top something like that, so if Nukie wanted to hold the audience's interest, they needed to do something big. Say, what if they applied a lot of dried snot makeup to Nukie's face? Would that work? Only one way to find out...
Okay, this alien ain't cute, he's fucking gross. I know a lot of people who were scared of E.T. as kids, but I dunno - he always looked the part to me. Alf? Alf was definitely cute. Most of the alien creatures I've seen that were intended to be cute pulled it off, but Nukie is just scary. You might argue that they were just going for realism - that alien life forms shouldn't appear 'cute' according to our standards. Please. If you produced Nukie, why would you want to scare the four kids willing to sit through it? Shouldn't these four kids, these four magical kids, be rewarded somehow? Maybe any kid who makes it through Nukie could be afforded access to a time machine with a two-hour rewind capacity so they can eradicate the experience from their personal histories. Or maybe they could just get six free donuts with the purchase of a dozen. I wish Nukie would explode.
Remember how Nukie was asking all those tortoises and antelopes for Miko's whereabouts? While it didn't pan out too well, Nukie ain't a quitter. He's ugly as all Hell and he's got about three pounds of snot stuck to his upper lip, but he AIN'T NO QUITTA PLAYA. Moving up the evolutionary ladder, he decides to seek out the aid of monkeys. Yes, monkeys. Monkeys that talk.
Why do they talk? Your guess is as good as mine. Like Nukie, and pretty obviously, the apes' mouths don't move in the slightest as they speak. No effort was made by the crew to bait the monkeys with bananas in an effort to get their jaws whistling. Nothing, nada, zip. They don't even bother to match the voiced-oved lines with any suitable monkey movements - the damn things will lick their asses clean while talking to Nukie simultaneously. Maybe they're using telepathy, I don't know. I've made a video clip of their exchange, because no words could really do a conversation between Nukie and chimps where neither party moves their mouths whatsoever justice. Check the bottom of this page for the download, if you're feeling courageous.
Summing up the whole monkey sideplot, Nukie's finally able to make some progress in his search for more Miko. The wild apes admit that they can't help him find America, since they're wild and geographically ignorant, but point him in the direction of one of the village's clothed and domesticated monkeys. Maybe he can help!
Well, the other monkey isn't really much of a help, either. Instead of answering Nukie's questions, he just hops around the room while talking about candy, eating candy, and pointing out how some of the candy is colored in the same hue as his shirt. I'm being completely serious. The scene goes well past being just 'bad,' flying around the Universe of Shit so many times that there's not even any words left with enough punch to describe it. This is one of the things that makes Nukie impossible to recommend -- it's more annoying than actually fun to watch. Since talking to this ape wasn't helping, Nukie had to stop fooling himself and go where no alien has gone before: the tribes of Africa.
The tribe's adults prove too savage for Nukie's tastes, so he opts to talk to the children. Tiko and Toki are the young twins of the tribe, a pair of friendly kids with shell necklaces, spears, and their bare asses completely hanging out in the open. I find it funny that any footage of African tribes are allowed to bypass all kinds of 'adult content' distinctions, even if they're standing there stark naked with a dead zebra's decapitated head hanging off their speartop. Still, the boys are easily the best actors in the whole movie, which probably shames Glynis Johns way more than the fact that her name is on Nukie's cast list.
The tribe twins are afraid of Nukie at first, since he's a scary alien covered in snot. If Nukie wants their help, he'll have to gain their trust. Fortunately, the opportunity to prove himself soon presents itself, as the boys are faced with an oncoming and hungry tiger. Actually, it's a lion, but let's pretend it's a tiger for no apparent reason.
Nukie uses his magic powers to halt the tiger before it eats the children. Which magic powers? The ones where he flops his arms up and down while saying 'calm, calm.' Stupid magic powers.
Jesus Christ, we're still only about halfway done. You'd think I would reserve the longer articles for subjects people are remotely interested in, but at least now I can give my failure a name. I'll try to make this last half of the review a bit breezier, mostly because I've been putting off taking a piss for the past hour and I don't know how much longer I can hold out.
Oh, remember Miko, the Space Foundation's captive alien and brother of All Things Nukie? Oddly enough, the guy is able to leave his prison whenever he pleases, unbeknownst to his captives. Instead of using this limited time to, you know, escape, Miko decides to just install a program on the Foundation's computer that allows it to feel emotion...
Later in the film, the computer tells one of the more heroic scientists that he loves her. Over and over again. With Vincent Price's voice. It's not really Vincent Price, but a pretty good impression of it. By 'pretty good,' I of course mean 'completely inappropriate.' After toying with the computer and making various Foundation workers dance like clowns, Miko goes back to his prison and continues being experimented on. Miko makes some really bad decisions.
Back in Africa, there's trouble!
The tribe's witch doctor, having seen strange storms forming and various clay pots exploding, doesn't realize that Nukie's the cause and instead places blame on our happy naked twins. In seeking relief from the gods in regard to the children's curse, the ugly man empties out a bag full rocks, teeth, clothespins, and dominos. Apparently, this means that the gods want the children to be banished from the village until one of them dies. Only then will the curse be lifted, and the remaining twin allowed back in the tribe. It's amazing how prophetic dominos can be when you need advice.
The kids aren't happy with their sentence, but have no choice but to oblige. Their mother puts up a fight to the tribe leaders, using her native language which sounds a lot like 'ooohblahblahblah blahblahooohblah!' Come nighttime, the twins are getting pretty scared and cold. Nukie shows up and zaps lightning out of his fingertips to start a fire. That takes care of the cold, but they're still a little scared. How do you cheer up frightened kids who know they stand a good chance at dying in the wilderness? A FIREWORKS SHOW!!
Check the video clip at the bottom of the page, I'm not even gonna attempt to describe this one. I will say this, though - even after all the talking monkeys and emotional computers and flying aliens, I never expected Nukie to break out with a dance number using riffs from old Animotion songs.
Meanwhile, one of the only good-natured Space Foundation scientists takes pity on Miko, helping him escape the lab and sending him on his way to Africa. I can't recall what led up to it, but Miko uncovered his brother's location and must find him before his energy runs out. I guess the brothers need each other for survival, sharing some kind of symbiotic relationship. By the way, Good Foundation Scientist Lady? Worst acting I've ever seen. While doing her scenes, she'll occasionally look up to the ceiling and intensely try to remember what she's supposed to be saying before letting out her lines with about as much emotion as a shoe. And, for the entire span of the movie, she doesn't change her clothes. Referring to Miko as 'the little boy from outer space,' we seem to be growing close to Nukie's climax. At least, that's what I'm praying for while clutching every rosary in the house.
Oh, here's another beauty. On the run from a bad guy who wants to sell Nukie to the Space Foundation, our heroic alien takes a tumble into a river, gets swept away in the rapids, crashes down a waterfall, and turns up in a pile of rubble completely unscathed ten minutes later. I found the suggestion that Nukie could survive such a thing insulting, and don't think I'll be able to get over it until I annoy someone else on a similar level. Looks like you're elect - here's an annoying animated pic of Paul Reiser from the opening credits of My Two Dads....
I totally forgot to mention the character up above, primarily because I totally forgot his name. He plays another one of the good scientists, and the only other thing I remember him from is that Charles Manson movie they always rerun on Lifetime. You know, the Women's Network. Managing to get back and forth from America to Africa in about twenty minutes, he arrives with the freed Miko just in the nick of time. Now they can reunite!
The creatures say their goodbyes, giving an especially fond farewell to the tribe twins who got naked for them. It should be noted that the snot count has reached impossible highs at this point, with both Miko and Nukie being so covered in the stuff that they appear almost glossy. Cute, right?
In the finale, we get a twist. Remember that unhelpful monkey from earlier - the one wearing the shirt and the diaper? For whatever reason, he's present when Nukie and Miko are getting ready to fly off into space, and asks one of the aliens if he can tag along. So, they turn him into one of those lightning bullet things and take off to the cosmos. WITH THE MONKEY. This sucks, I used to be such a fan of monkeys. Nukie ruined it for me. Nukie ruined a lot of things for me.
Overall: The film rips off plot devices from other flicks left and right, but it's still pretty unique. Unfortunately, once the novelty of the insanity wears thin, you're left with an exceedingly boring movie that plods along worse than a one-legged duck who just barely survived a big fire. Nukie can frequently be found on eBay for those interested, and since it's such an unknown, the prices are usually cheap. This isn't one you can laugh at with friends, though - you'll never make it through the whole thing. Took me three tries, a pair of handcuffs, and really old wine to do it successfully. If you're curious to see how badly a simple and proven concept can be fucked up, you may wanna check it out. If not, stay as far away from Nukie as possible. 4 out of 10.
VIDEO #1: NUKIE LUVS APES! The snot-stained alien idiot asks a bunch of wild monkeys for help.