Tonight at the pub, it came to the attention of Will and Matt and myself that none of us had ever seen Gremlins. I'm a big fan of Steven Spielberg, and so I'm always glad to find these "lesser" projects in the Spielberg canon. Everyone gets a pass on some things, but after this summer's debacle known as the final installment in the Indiana Jones cycle, I've been looking for some sense of redemption. Sure, Munich, Schindler's List, and Saving Private Ryan all built up enough capital to cover for the sins of Harrison Ford's last hurrah, but I digress.
Did anyone else remember that it was Spielberg that produced Gremlins?
"What's in the box, Dad? I hear it moving around."
"It's a plot device, son."
After watching this gem of my childhood, I may have to reconsider my Christmas top 5. Maybe. I'll sleep on it a few times. But seriously: can you imagine buying something called a Mogwai for your kid for Christmas? It's like if you actually found a unicorn, and bought it for your kids. Sure, it'd be mildly cool....okay, it'd be really awesome...but you'd never be able to tell anyone about it. It's the Christmas present that has to stay perpetually wrapped, which would just be hell. Surprisingly, though, everyone's remarkably cool with this strange animal that's the cinematic equivalent of a Tribble.
A few thoughts:
1) Why doesn't Gizmo know Chinese? He picks up English amazingly quickly, calling out "bright light!" almost from the first moment. Why doesn't he spout Mandarin? Kevin? Thoughts?
2) What's with the heavy--almost OPPRESSIVE--use of the synthesizer in this movie? It goes so far as to have Gizmo playing on a Speak-N-Spell songmaker.
3) Corey Feldman is, once again, a loveable child comic device.
4) Malfunctioning inventions are almost always funny. Exhibit A: Home Alone.
5) Judge Reinhold, once again, is a douche bag.
6) This is an exceedingly dark comedy. This is before the days of the real dark comedies (The Royal Tennenbaums) , but still, it makes otherworldly mayhem and chaos seem, well, just downright adorable. It's the perpetual genius of the visual gag, I think.
7) Stripe's bad demeanor is telegraphed from the start, despite the fact that he looks just like Gizmo. Eyebrows tell you everything with the animated set.
4 Buckets of Water out of 5.