Pubescents and teenagers had a huge cinematic year in 1996. There was Happy Gilmore, Beavis and Butthead Do America, Kingpin and Bio-Dome – a film about two carefree imbeciles, Bud and Doyle, who get trapped inside a self-sustaining science experiment for a year when one of them needs to take a piss. It’s a puerile film full of gross jokes but its premise has parallels to life in lockdown – especially if you live in Brunswick East.
Bud and Doyle get locked inside the Bio-Dome – a microcosm of Earth complete with a desert, rainforest and waterfalls – with five environmental scientists. The demographic under the dome is not unlike the one in Brunswick East, in Melbourne’s inner north, which is populated by well-meaning, educated people who want to save the planet, some of whom also want to stay up partying and doing drugs at a nearby pizza parlour. There are households growing their own vegetables, urban foragers, wild yeasts and biodynamic everything.
The film opens with a voice bellowing about searching for hope in the face of environmental disasters, over footage of burning oil derricks and baby ducks covered in tar, so we’ve known fossil fuels are bad since at least ’96. And yet, despite having 24 years to take this Bio-Dome thing seriously, the powerful people still haven’t installed geodesic utopias on every block.
Doyle and Bud are respectively played by one of the lesser Baldwins and Pauly Shore, who is a kind of weirder Adam Sandler. They star alongside Kylie Minogue playing an oceanographer which is confusing because the Bio-Dome doesn’t have an ocean and the only “science” we see Minogue’s character do involves her licking a carrot. Why she’s named after the lead character in German auteur Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is also inexplicable.
Coming in hot from starring alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme in the big-screen Street Fighter adaptation, Minogue says Bio-Dome was her worst career move and is the only thing she’s done in her professional life that her father ridicules her for. (I was unable to find the original source of this bit of Minogue IMDB trivia, but if you’ve seen Bio-Dome it’s believable.) Despite the current hype, Street Fighter will always be cooler than Animal Crossing.
There’s also a Tenacious D cameo at an environmental rally that resembles the kind of moshpit-free, socially distanced concert you can see happening once lockdown lifts. It’s perhaps a best-case scenario – the worst being free-for-all, virus-spreading parties like the one Bud and Doyle throw in the Bio-Dome.
Relations are tense between Bud, Doyle and the scientists after the big bash trashes their experiment. It drives the film’s baddie – doctor Noah Faulkner – insane, forcing him to sneak around his bountiful ark like a Tinder user ignoring lockdown restrictions. But the two degenerates win back the affections of their learned roomies by returning the Bio-Dome to a harmonious equilibrium.
Getting along with your housemates is really important right now, but it’s hard when you’re all cooped up together. The other day my housemate cracked it at me because I said hedgehog slices were overrated. I was pretty mad about it but realised it’d be really dumb to have a falling out over a cake and offered to make her lasagne. In true Bio-Dome style she said sorry by presenting me with some freshly foraged feijoas.
So under lockdown, don’t forget about saving the environment, don’t have a falling out with your housemates and don’t have a massive infectious house party. As Bud and Doyle say: “Viva Los Bio-Dome!”
• Bio-Dome is now streaming in Australia on Stan
Source: The Guardian