MOVIE REVIEW: “Gremlins” stars Zach Galligan (Surviving, Waxwork), Phoebe Cates (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Drop Dead Fred), Hoyt Axton (Retribution, Dixie Lanes), Frances Lee McCain (Back to the Future, Footloose ), Dick Miller (The Terminator, The ‘Burbs), Polly Holliday (Alice [TV series], The Parent Trap ), Glynn Turman (Super 8, Sahara), Corey Feldman (The Lost Boys, The Goonies), Judge Reinhold (Beverly Hills Cop, The Santa Clause), Scott Brady (The China Syndrome, Johnny Guitar), Jonathan Banks (The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Breaking Bad [TV series]), Belinda Balaski (The Howling, Small Soldiers), Keye Luke (Charlie Chan in Paris, Alice), John Louie (Riptide, They Call Me Bruce), Frank Welker (Transformers: Age of Extinction, Scoob!), and Howie Mandel (Little Monsters, St. Elsewhere [TV series]). It is directed by Joe Dante (Looney Tunes: Back in Action, The ‘Burbs) and written by Chris Columbus (The Goonies, Christmas with the Kranks).
An unsuccessful inventor gifts his son a new pet named Magwai that he picked up in Chinatown for Christmas. However, this strange pet comes with a set of instructions; if they are not followed, severe consequences unfold.
So… this is a Christmas movie? Just goes to show how much I know about “Gremlins.” I watched it specifically to make a post for Halloween! Ah, whatever.
Yes folks, I’ve never seen “Gremlins.” Sue me, why don’t you? I understand it’s a classic. That’s why I chose to watch it… for Halloween. I’m sure it’s debatable of when you can pop it in the player (really, you can watch a movie anytime you want during the year). All I know is, I had fun watching this one.
Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Joe Dante, this flick boasts 80’s charm unlike any other. Really, it’s an animated story shot for live-action. The town this story takes place in has an array of goofy characters who provide light humor for the otherwise scary circumstance. Heck, who am I to say scary? This thing is practically a full-fledged family comedy. The only scary thing is the look of those gremlins (and the various ways they are slaughtered).
From beginning to end, this movie entertains. I enjoyed watching our lead guy Billy navigate his way through life, only for it to be spun out of control when his inventor dad gifts him a pet unlike any other. The look of Mogwai (otherwise named Gizmo) is iconic, as are the gremlins they turn into. Chris Columbus, who wrote the script, created a healthy balance of fantasy, romance, and coming-of-age, all set during the joyous time of Christmas. It’s truly a classic work, and though it is certainly silly, I couldn’t help but smile while watching it.
I once watched a video essay on the works of Joe Dante, and when it discussed his time with “Gremlins,” it spoke of his admiration of Looney Tunes; specifically the work of Chuck Jones (who actually appeared in the movie). It’s evident that his love for Bugs Bunny and company affected his direction of this. The gremlins, while murderous of humans, are quite hilarious when playing off each other. There’s a sequence in a bar that had me laughing, where all the gremlins are knocking beers, playing poker, and dancing their hearts out. This film clearly knows its style, and leans into it heavily. The performances can be cartoony, as is the action/humor, which never lets up as we get closer to the third act.
Overall, “Gremlins” is a funny, inventive, and somehow heartwarming Christmas feature (that could very well be played during Halloween). The practical effects are out of this world, with a terrific team behind the puppetry of these little guys. It’s a goofy, chaotic flick, but it knows what it is, and plays that in spades. It certainly is a classic. FINAL SCORE: 89%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: