What do a big bad chemical company, an old school mop and sense of vengeance give us when they are combined? THE TOXIC AVENGER! The brisk and sprightly new film had its World Premiere as the Opening Night Film at Fantastic Fest 2023 in Austin, Texas.
When making a movie based on an earlier property, it’s important to make both fans of the original and people new to the concept be happy with the finished work. Even though I’ve never seen Troma Entertainment’s original Toxic Avenger (1984) the remake was completely enjoyable.
Directed by Macon Blair (who was recently in OPPENHEIMER in a small role as Oppy’s lawyer Lloyd Garrison but is known in the genre circles for BLUE RUIN, MURDER PARTY and also directing the Netflix title I DON’T FEEL HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE, the film stars janitor Winston Gooze (Peter Dinklage) and his surprise new identity as The Toxic Avenger, aka Toxie!
The film manages to skew corporate greed and address class struggles while also managing to incorporate multiple easter eggs for fans. When we meet Winston, he is working as a janitor at the just awful BTH corporation of St. Roma’s Village, whose dangerous “wellness” products don’t seem to be doing any good for anyone except for corporate management and profit margins. Winston is trying to get by while doing his best as a stepfather to Wade (Jacob Tremblay) whose mother just died of cancer.
Soon Winston discovers he has a complicated terminal illness and that his platinum plan health insurance won’t cover a crucial experimental treatment for it, a treatment that would have been covered if he had just had the gold plan!
In good faith, Winston dons a mask and pink tutu to get into a party to ask his boss Bob Garbinger (Kevin Bacon) for help. His boss does not help…and, in fact, wants Winston, err taken care of. For the dirty work, cue brother Fritz Garbinger (Elijah Wood) in what would be a breakout role for Wood, if he wasn’t already a major star.
Toss in an investigative reporter and a murderous metal monstercore band called “Killer Nutz” stir in an accident that blends chemical compounds that were never meant to be blended and a weaponized mop and you have the makings of a wild and fun plot.
In a world full of superhero clone movies, this tongue in cheek tale is sprightly and fun. Filled with locations like “Depressing Outskirts” and “Ye Olde Shithead District” you can see that this is a superhero movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
THE TOXIC AVENGER was the Opening Night movie of the 2023 edition of Fantastic Fest. The movie will have a release later in the fall. Thanks as always to Fons PR and Fantastic Fest for having us!