Solarbabies (1986)

There was a time, like probably 1986, where end of the world movies and rollerskating movies crossed paths to make one film. Mel Brooks was involved. And it went nowhere in our reality, but if we are to believe the theory of multiple Earths each with their own divergent timelines, there is one version of life where Solarbabies was a Star Wars sized hit and there would be a whole new slate of Italian ripoffs of end of the world rollerskating movies and not just the Roller Blade movies that Donald Jackson unleashed on an uncaring planetoid.

There’s no water in the future and there are orphanages and there’s a game that’s kind of like rugby on skates. A team of orphans — Jason (Jason Patric), Terra (Jami Gertz), Rabbit (Claude Brooks), Metron (James LeGros), Tug (Peter DeLuise) and Daniel (Lukas Haas) — have bonded over this game and when Daniel finds a glowing orb that might be the key to everyone having enough water, this family unit has to seek it out.

That’s because another orphan named Darstar (Adrian Pasdar) has stolen it and taken off for the desert with the Eco Protectorate e-Police in hot pursuit. Oh yeah — that orb is also called the Bodhi and is part of an alien who the government also wants to capture.

This movie leaves me with so many questions, like why did talented people like Charles Durning, Sarah Douglas and Alexei Sayle from The Young Ones end up in it? How do rollerskates work in the desert? How amazing is it that Mel Brooks lost $9 million dollars of his own money on this and had to fly out to the set to threaten to fire everyone when the cast fought with director Alan Johnson, who up until then was a choreographer and only directed one other movie, Brooks’ To Be Or Not to Be? Can you believe that this movie was delayed for weeks because of rain, even though it was lensed in a Spanish desert? And how absolutely wild is it that it has a theme song by Smokey Robinson, “Love Will Set You Free” that directly quotes Jesus throughout*?

Bad gut Grock — great name — was played by Richard Jordan, who had to have been sick of being in desert movies that bombed after this and Dune.

And you know, I loved this when it came out. I was that lone kid when Patric and Gertz got hot in The Lost Boys that kept saying, “But have you seen Solarbabies?”

*To be fair, every character in this movie is named for some religious figure and the Bodhi is at one point literally called the sphere of Longinus, which is a direct tie to the Spear of Destiny that pierced the side of Jesus and ended his life after being crucified.

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