Set in the distant future, "Solarbabies" tells of a band of young people who rebel against the rule of the "Protectorate." The Protectorate, you see, has cornered the world's supply of water, and uses its power to rule with an iron hand. Young people are taken from their parents at birth and enrolled in an orphanage (run by the alarmingly gibbous Charles Durning), where they are taught to be good soldiers for the system.

They also play "skateball," a combination of lacrosse and roller derby -- one of the skateball teams calls itself the "solarbabies."

Into the solarbabies' lives comes Bodhi, a sort of glow-in-the-dark volleyball with mystical powers -- the authorities know it as the "Sphere of Longinus," and they fear it. What follows is a race across the desert, as the volleyball escapes from the solarbabies, the solarbabies chase the volleyball and the authorities chase the solarbabies.

"Solarbabies" is a hilariously bad movie that doesn't make much sense and isn't much good when it does. Director Alan Johnson has stolen most of his visual ideas from Ridley Scott ("Blade Runner") and George Miller ("The Road Warrior"), and he hasn't the slightest idea how to direct actors.

That said, the movie has its campy pleasures, particularly in the godawful dialogue ("Get out, you creature of filth!") and in the performance of Richard Jordan as the evil Grock. Dolled up in latex Nazi drag and blowing kisses at his victims, Jordan seems like an escapee from the X-rated videocassette of "Hogan's Heroes."

Solarbabies, at area theaters, is rated PG-13 and contains some violence.