EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|GREMLINS (director: Joe Dante; screenwriter: Chris Columbus; cinematographer: John Hora; editor: Tina Hirsch; music: Jerry Goldsmith; cast: Zach Galligan (Billy Peltzer), Phoebe Cates (Kate Berringer), Hoyt Axton (Rand Peltzer), Frances Lee McCain (Lynn Peltzer), Polly Holliday (Mrs Deagle), Dick Miller (Mr. Futterman), Scott Brady (Sheriff Frank), Harry Carey Jr. (Mr. Anderson), Keye Luke (Oriental Grandfather), John Louie (Chinese Boy), Judge Reinhold (Gerald), Corey Feldman (Pete), Glynn Turman (Roy Hanson, Teacher), Chuck Jones (Mr. Jones), Howie Mandel (Voice of Gizmo), Kenneth Tobey (Gas Station Attendant); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Michael Finnell; Warner Home Video; 1984)|
|"A wholesome Christmas family
flick that veers over to the dark side."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A wholesome Christmas family flick that veers over to the
dark side (its violence helped
lead to the
creation of the PG-13 rating).
It's filled with great special effects, black comedy, cartoonish
mayhem, in-jokes for film buffs and there's anarchy afoot in putting a
little bit of a damper on the Christmas season and the trashing of
consumer goods. It's the most popular film Joe Dante
("Piranha"/"The Howling"/"Innerspace") ever directed, as he gave the
public what they wanted (it's possible to read anything you want into
the gremlins and not be wrong). It was easily the box-office hit of
1984. Steven Spielberg is the executive producer, who sees this
film as a reversal of his cuddly alien hit E.T. (1982).
Rand Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) is an incompetent inventor. While in
Chinatown he buys his twenty-something bank teller son Billy (Zach
unique Christmas present in a Chinatown junk shop from a mysterious
Oriental (Keye Luke). It's a cute, fuzzy little "Mogwai" (the gremlin
was created by Chris Walas). The wise man shopkeeper warns the bumbling
inventor: "Don't expose him to
bright light. Don't ever get him wet. And don't
ever, ever feed him after midnight."
Rand returns to his
picture-perfect small-town of Kingston
a replica of Frank Capra's town in It's a Wonderful Life (1946), with
Christmas decorations on the main street and the sidewalk covered with
snow and lets Billy opens the gift in front of his supportive housewife
mom (Frances Lee McCain). Since the little pet creature responds
to being called Gizmo (voiced
by Howie Mandel), that's what
he's now called.
While Billy's young Christmas
tree salesman friend
and him are playing with Gizmo in his room, water accidently splashes
on the pet. It thereby spawns five more Gizmos. Later Billy mistakenly
feeds the new creatures after midnight and soon finds out they multiple
at a prolific rate and become monsters wrecking the town in a nasty
manner on Christmas Eve. The gremlins fill an empty theater and wreck
it and then joyfully watch a screening of Disney's Snow White and the
Seven Dwarfs while Billy
and his bank teller girlfriend Kate (Phoebe Cates) figure out a way to destroy them.
Dante's set pieces have a
sadistic edge to them, as the film successfully blends together
cheerful family comedy and a horror story about evil
monsters--something that's not easy to do, but is done very well here.
REVIEWED ON 9/24/2010 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ