Nelle and Blinker watching Paps flying a kite.
Blinker en de Blixvaten (Blinker and the Blix Barrels) is the third film about the Van Steens, a Flemish nuclear family, based on the books by Belgian author Marc De Bel. Paps, played by comic character actor Warre Borgmans, is a free-spirited man with very kid-like behavior. He still likes to fly kites and has eccentricities like a huge collection of alarm clocks to make sure that he wakes up in the morning. Els Olaerts plays the mom, who is a lot more down to earth and keeps the family on an even keel. Their daughter Ellen (Julie Borgmans) is mainly interested in spending time with her latest boyfriend. Blinker (Kasper Vanbeginne) turns out to be the hero of the story. He is much more practical than his dad. He likes to tinker with electronics and crafts. As the story begins, the Van Steens are off to the coastal region of Oostende, Holland to spend the summer. Paps has gotten a job as a lifeguard there at one of the beaches. Blinker is happy that his dad has gotten a nice job that allows him to have a fun summer at the beach. His older sister Ellen, who initially resented coming to the coast, meets handsome Greenpeace activist Tino (Anthony Arandia), and is now happy to be there with her new beau.
When Paps is mistakenly arrested for polluting the ocean with toxic waste, Blinker goes off to discover the real culprits.
When the Van Steens arrive at the beach, we soon see Paps continue with his bumbling ways. He has a terrible time putting up a tent and even has to cut down a small branch to serve as a post, after it keeps blowing over. Luckily the family has a trailer home that they can stay in. One morning while cleaning up litter on the beach where he is life guard, he sees a large pink barrel that has washed up on the shore. The local police had received a report about toxic waste being illegally dumped in the ocean, and when two of them observe Paps with the barrel, they arrest him on a charge of toxic pollution. Soon his face is all over the news, which is very upsetting to the rest of the family and to the community. Even as a prisoner, Paps manages to accidentally set the police station on fire. Tino is shocked at the news about Paps and quickly dumps Ellen as his girlfriend. The toxic waste is actually from the Blix Company. The elderly CEO of the company has lost interest in managing the company, often snoozing during board meetings. His unscrupulous son (also played by Warre Borgmans) has conspired with Anna Barbera (Sandrine André) to illegally dump the waste in the ocean and pocket the profits from not having to do a proper disposal. They will get away with their scam if they can transport the last large load of it out to the ocean before the authorities find out.
Inside a warehouse belonging to the Blix Corporation, Blinker sees workers dumping toxic waste into barrels.
With their summer on the verge of disaster, Blinker laces up his brown high top chucks and sets out to discover the real culprits who are dumping the toxic waste. He figures that the Blix Company is a logical place to start, and sneaks inside one of their warehouses, where he sees that his suspicions are correct. Unfortunately he is discovered by Anna and her goons. With a couple of well placed kicks, Blinker is able to escape and head off on his bicycle. A long chase scene ensues along the coast, and through a nude beach. No place to hide there, literally. Blinker is almost recaptured when he is discovered hiding in a phone booth but manages to escape again. He heads home to alert his family. When Ellen gets the news, she tells Tino and their romance is rekindled. The two go off in a small boat to locate the ship carrying the barrels of waste.
After temporarily escaping from the Blix goons by running through a nude beach, Blinker puts his high top chucks back on.
Gramps (Carry Goossens) is a retired military man. He tells them that they need to get specific proof of the pollution. He dresses up in camouflage fatigues and goes with Blinker and his girl friend Nelle (Lynn Van de Velde) back to the warehouse to get the proof. Gramps sneaks inside to score a sample of the toxic waste, hiding out from Anna’s goons, who are loading it into a van. When he opens a bottle and gets a whiff of it, it is so strong he passes out. Blinker and Nelle are waiting outside, but they are discovered by Anna and her goons who kidnap them and dump them into the back of an SUV. Later Blinker and Nelle are able to escape, when Blinker pops open the rear door of the SUV using the wire from a pendant he made for Nelle. The two run off but are quickly pursued by Anna and her goons who go after them with guns and knives. Blinker and Nelle must use all of their wits to get away. The balance of the film is about how of this plays out.
Anna and her goons discover Blinker hiding in a phone booth, but he is able to escape again.
It’s too bad that Blinker en de Blixvaten did not receive distribution in the US market. A DVD was made but was in the Flemish language with Dutch and English subtitles. Belgian director Filip van Neyghem’s film has a lot of appeal with its mix of family comedy, romance, and an action/adventure story that keeps you on edge. It’s always nice to see a European take on this genre, especially when it emphasizes family values in a much more accepting and natural way, as opposed the often preaching and mostly unbelievable family films that are made in the US. Of course you could imagine the uproar and ratings dilemma this film would cause in America because of the brief scene at the nude beach, which is actually quite funny. You see an embarrassed Blinker running through the beach holding his clothes in front of him, but he has to do so to escape the bad guys, who just go barrelling through brandishing their weapons. The film is well cast, and it is easy to relate to the Van Steen family, despite the foibles of Paps as played by Warre Borgmans. They have a lot of heart, and live in a simple, loving environment. The film mostly focuses on Kasper Vanbeginne, who does a great job as Blinker, when it switches into its action/adventure mode halfway through. The villains, led by Sandrine André, are much more mean and believable than we normally see in family films, and they go after Blinker with a vengeance after he becomes a threat to them. Some of these scenes might be too intense for young viewers. This film would rate probably at PG-13 in the US. (Maybe even R because of the nude beach scene, but that just points out the hypocrisy of the ratings system. Films with graphic violence can get a PG-13, but show a little nudity, and in this case nothing overtly sexual, and you are in trouble!). The DVD is out of print, but you can easily download the film on the Internet. It’s worth the effort!
Later, Blinker and Hilde are grabbed by the goons and thrown into the back of an SUV.
Left: Blinker comes across some pink paint used to disguise the toxic waste barrels. Right: Blinker goes to pick up a shipping form that implicates the Blix Company.
Kasper Vanbeginne, in the title role, wears chocolate brown high top chucks throughout most of the film. Lynn Van de Velde as his girlfriend, Nelle, sports a pair of black plaid high tops. The camera work is occasionally chucks friendly, mainly when Blinker and Nelle are trying to discover who the real polluters are in order to clear the name of Blinker’s father. It’s always cool to see teenagers around the world wearing chucks.
The camera gives us a close up of Hilde’s black plaid print high top chucks.
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