August 30, 2009

Gremlins - 1984

Director: Joe Dante
Writer: Chris Columbus
Starring: Zack Galligan, Howie Mandel (voice), Phoebe Cates, Corey Feldman

"They're watching Snow White. And they love it." In Joe Dante's Gremlins, a man goes to Chinatown in search of his son's Christmas present, and leaves with a strange animal called a mogwai. He is given three rules to follow:
  1. Keep it out of bright light, especially sunlight, which is fatal.
  2. Don't let it come into contact with water.
  3. Don't feed it after midnight.
But wouldn't you know it, rule two gets broken, so our hero goes from having a single nice, cute pet to six, five of which are equally adorable, but not as nice. The father, a would-be inventor, immediately sees the marketing potential in the creatures, and the son takes the original to a local science teacher, and they make another duplicate for the teacher to run tests on (quite an advanced school they have, isn't it?). Adding to the never-ending stream of complications, all six of this new batch end up being fed after midnight, and enter pupal (cocoon) stages, despite being mammalian in nature. They break out of the cocoons distinctly reptilian, and proceed to wreak havoc on the town.

Let's keep this concise: there's a reason this movie is a classic. It appeals to both the young (although it does get a tad violent) and young at heart. I'd say the best scene of the film takes place in the family's kitchen and involves the mother (Frances Lee McCain, who'd co-star with Feldman again in Stand By Me) and a few of the evil gremlins. You'll know it when you see it. And finding out that Howie Mandel provides the voice of Gizmo, the original mogwai, is a pleasant surprise. Columbus does try to give the movie a message at the end, but it's still great despite that.

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