Tank Girl (1995) — Punk fashion and heavy armor

“Look, it’s been swell, but the swelling’s gone down.”

Justin’s rating: So THIS is what they learn in Feminist Theory classes!

Justin’s review: How does one describe this movie? It’s so unabashedly itself that you’ll either be feeling hungover like the time you got tricked into seeing Spice World, or (like me) you’ll be doing a little chuckle dance, reveling in a truly one-of-a-kind movie.

Tank Girl slaps you in the face from minute one to minute one hundred and four with edgy non-conformist attitude. Our spunky heroine (gleefully portrayed by Lori Petty) is part punkette, part war machine fetishist, and fashion icon. To help us understand that her outlandish look and attitude is from the ’80s British comic books, we are treated to numerous illustrated panels that spice up various scenes.

In the future, a comet has hit earth. As a result, there’s previous little water and a lot of kangaroo creatures starring Ice-T (aka “I named myself after a rather weak form of refreshing beverage, as that befits my status as a rapper”).

Seeing oppression everywhere, Tank Girl fights the evil Water & Power corporation. This is headed up by (who else?) Malcom McDowell, spouting more one-liners than Arnold on a good day. Action, tanks, jets, machine guns, and approximately 521 costume changes later, Tank Girl has us convinced she’s marriage material (and she saves the day as well, I think).

This film subjects us to a non-stop barrage of practical effects, Freudian symbols, and a cute sidekick named Jet Girl (Naomi Watts) that all serve to feed the soul. Wait, did I say Tank Girl was marriage material? Naw, make mine Jet Girl any day! Mechanically inclined women with grease smears and oversized glasses are incredibly attractive.

I guess what’s so fun about Tank Girl is that the film, like the lead character, is nothing more than a grown-up child at play. We like tanks. They make things go boom. See Tank Girl, or we might have to shave your head.

Alex’s rating: If only the coming apocalypse turns out to be this much fun!

Alex’s review: So, back in the days of yore when I was but a whisp of a girl at the tender age of 16 and dating aspiring comic book artists in Minnesota via the internet, I was first introduced to this cult gem. Not to insinuate that rural Minnesota isn’t one of the most exciting epicenters of art and culture in the world, but Tank Girl is by far the longest-lived influence I took from loverboy and his snowy surroundings.

Okay, that, and a deeply seated revulsion for the word “Sodapop.” But let’s move on.

In the years since the trauma of my brief northern exposure finally shuffled to the back of my mental library, Tank Girl has remained a favorite, and earned shelf space in both mine and my sister’s video and DVD arsenal. Tank Girl has become our common movie middle ground since we first watched it together while sharing a bucket of Haagen Daas Belgian Chocolate ice cream. Considering that sister dearest ceaselessly enjoys such cinematic masterpieces as Gossip, End of Days, or the sundry Wayans Brothers production while I’d prefer to stick my face in a blender running on pureé for the exfoliation benefits rather than sit through additional viewings of said masterpieces, that’s saying a lot.

My Inner Wackiness overrides my more peevish highbrow Quality Control, and so for the hour and three quarters that the movie lasts, my favorite youngest sibling and I romp together in the highly hilarious quote-laden bliss that is Tank Girl. Thus there is a measure of peace in the kingdom, and we’ve got Lori Petty and Malcom McDowell to thank for it.

Apart from spanning the gap between two opposite-ends-of-the-spectrum-sitters like myself and my sister, Tank Girl genuinely is a rich source of good fun. Notice the lack of the word “clean” in there; it’s absence is warranted, since most of the dialogue in the movie is not exactly suited to those who are virginal of ear. Still, being the mature omnipotent geek goddess that I am acclaimed to be (by stalkers and boyfriend alike, wow, can ya feel the love?), I can pretty much assure you it’s nothing that’s going to put a twist in your bloomers, especially if you’ve managed to sit through anything akin to The Boondock Saints or Chairman of the Board (where it was indubitably the audience who made ample use of the more severe variety of vocabulary).

The characters are all stylish cartoon caricatures portrayed perfectly in line with the mood of the original cult British comic, which yields a level of entertainment to be wished for with every comic book film adaptation. My favorite character has to be Jet, with her transformation from being the painfully shy science geekette to full-force card carrying sidekick worthy of our heroine and her crazy antics. She’s really got some of the coolest lines in the movie, and when she finally gets revenge against the scuzzy Travolta lookalike bully, it is indeed sweet. Plus, I would so take a jet over a tank. Definitely.

Complete with a Cole Porter song and dance number, Ice-T looking somehow appropriate as a kangaroo manimal, and an amusingly believable cameo by Iggy Pop as a post-apocalyptic brothel visiting pervert, Tank Girl straps on a missile brassiere and fires away with enough laughs to cure hangovers, lower taxes, and incite world peace. Well, at the very least, you’ll be treated to the word “hump” no less than twice — and that’s always good for a giggle!


  • Sub Girl, or “Rain Lady” as she’s referred to in the movie is played by Ann Cusack, another one of the seemingly endless family of Hollywood-employed Cusacks.
  • Both TG and Booger wear a bull’s-eye T-shirt
  • Laz-y-boys on tanks. If the Army did this, there might be more recruits.
  • The Titanic in San Fransisco bay?
  • Immediately after Malcolm McDowell’s first scene, Lori Petty’s costume (bowler hat, eye makeup) recalls McDowell’s costume in A Clockwork Orange
  • Tank Girl wears 18 different outfits and hairstyles throughout the film

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