Thursday, December 18, 2014

Movie Review: "Gremlins" (1984)

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Movie"Gremlins"
Director: Joe Dante
Year: 1984
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) is an inventor who is on the road a lot trying to sell his wares. While in Chinatown, a young boy (John Louie) asks Randall to check out his grandfather's shop. Randall hopes to sell Mr. Wing (Keye Luke) on his invention, The Bathroom Buddy, and in the end, it is Randall winds up buying something for his son Billy (Zach Galligan) for Christmas. It is a small, furry animal called a Mogwai, which Randall offers $200 to purchase, though Mr. Wing won't sell it because it requires too much responsibility. Mr. Wing's grandson is willing too sell it and does, though he does tell him there are three rules of owning a Mogwai: 1. Keep him out of bright lights, especially sunlight, which is fatal to the creature; 2. Do not get it wet; and 3. Never feed it after midnight. Billy receives the Mogwai, now named Gizmo, from his dad. Billy and Gizmo become quick friends, but Mr. Wing may have been right about the responsibilities of owning a Mogwai as Billy accidentally breaks one rule after the other. Gizmo gets wet when Billy's friend Pete (Corey Feldman) spills water on it, causing Gizmo to multiply into five more Mogwai. Billy is then tricked by those Mogwai into feeding them after midnight, causing them to transform into little green monsters called Gremlins. The Gremlins are not like Gizmo, they are much more evil and go on to terrorize the town and run amok, so Billy must do his best to stop them. 

This is one of BigJ's favorite movies. He grew up watching it and he still loves it just as much as he did when he was a kid. I hadn't ever seen it until I was an adult, so some of its charm doesn't jive with me in 2014. That's just the way of the world. That being said, it's still a good movie, but if I had watched this as a kid, I probably would have been terrified of the Gremlins and their antics. The movie itself has both comedic and horror elements to it, though it takes place during Christmastime. Sometimes, it can even get downright scary and gruesome depending on who is watching. By today's standards, it would probably be rated PG-13.

Though not your typical holiday fare, "Gremlins" is most certainly a Christmas movie, loaded with singing carols, holiday background music, Christmas decorations all over town and snow all over the place. Gizmo is freaking adorable, with his big eye and big ears and cute, cuddly exterior, and is much different that his ugly, alienesque counterparts. Part of us wondered during the movie if Gizmo was created in the Jim Henson Creature Shop because he looked so well executed and had many Henson-esque qualities. Come to think of it, all of the gremlins look pretty fantastic, though animatronic, and even when they are burning or bubbling into a brown pool of nothingness, they look really great. It's nice that movies like this were made before the over-proliferation of CGI and that filmmakers actually had to take the time and invest the money in creating real, tangible creatures, not just copy paste them from a computer. A gremlin, to quote BigJ, "is what toddler would be like if it had claws and sharp teeth." The Gremlins don't care about hurting others and wreck everything in their path, but they do have a lot of fun, at least in their minds. Plus, they love cartoons, candy and cookies and video games. We're sorry to all our parent friends out there, but this is just the truth of the matter. The people in this movie only serve as vessels to further the story of how the Gremlins and Mogwai ended up in Kingston Falls, a pretty small town. The actors are all mostly interchangeable, but the story isn't really about them, it's about the creatures. The story itself is pretty basic, though Phoebe Cates' character could probably win a prize for the most screwed up Christmas story ever. Don't you just want to hug her? There are tons of huge plot holes within the rules of owning a Mogwai, but we can generally ignore those because this is just a fun but pretty bizarre ChristmaHorrorComedy. It has a lot of little background Easter eggs throughout the movie, and if you pay attention, some of them are really fun to spot.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%
Do we recommend this movie:
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One year ago, we were watching: "Die Hard"

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