Stars: Lori Petty, Malcolm McDowell, Naomi Watts, Ice-T, Reg E. Cathey, Scott Coffey. Written by Tedi Sarafian. Directed by Rachel Talalay. Rated R for nudity, sexual situations, violence, profanity.

How many of you remember the movie "Howard the Duck"? (Dull murmur) Okay, now how many of you fondly remember the movie "Howard the Duck"? (Quiet except for the occasional chirping cricket). I mention that colossal bomb because it is the nearest relative of "Tank Girl". Both films are based on cult-favorite comic books that feature a sardonic lead character and a skewed sense of humor. But the similarities don't end there. In neither case were the film-makers able to capture the tone, or even the look, of the source material in an effective way.

The story is set in the year 2033, after an ecological disaster has rendered most land barren and promoted water to the status of the most valued commodity. Feisty Rebecca Buck (Lori Petty) is captured by a task force sent out by the powerful and hated Department of Water. Escaping from a life of slavery by stealing a tank, Rebecca comes to be known as Tank Girl. At her side is fellow escapee Jet Girl (Naomi Watts) who, as you guessed the moment you read the name, uses a jet for transportation. The two of them, with the help of kangaroo-men mutants known as Rippers, seek to rescue a young girl from the clutches of bad guy Kesslee (Malcolm McDowell).

Bridging the gap between scenes in "Tank Girl" are drawings of exterior locations and Tank Girl & Co. as they appear in the comic books. These may have trimmed the budget of the film by requiring fewer sets, but they don't blend well with the live- action for a couple of reasons. The first is that they tend to interfere with the rhythm of the film. The second is that they illuminate the strong disparity between the tough Tank Girl of the comics, and the more cutesy-poo Tank Girl of the movie.

Although "Tank Girl" isn't is as bad as "Howard the Duck", neither is it much better. Fans of the comic book are sure to flock to the film and just as sure to be disappointed. Others are encouraged to skip the lame cinematic hijinx entirely.

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