Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Gremlins [1984]

[Now Experiencing] [Film]

Lily and I dug this film out of my DVD collection the other day, as she'd never seen it and had no idea why I kept shouting "Bright light! Bright light!" in a high-pitched voice whenever she turned the lights on.

I missed this when it first debuted in cinemas in 1984 (which is unsurprising, as I was four years old) but I caught it a considerable time later on video, I think probably in the early 90s. I remembered it as being a lot of fun, and was worried that a repeat viewing nearly a decade later would ruin my fuzzy glow about it. Never fear - it was just as fun this time around!

Oh, sure, the characters are ridiculous caricatures. It's badly acted, the plot's full of insultingly obvious holes and dodgy logic, and it's openly derivative of a bevy of vastly better movies, including but not limited to It's A Wonderful Life, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Alien. But look on the plus side - it's got a Mogwai!

Let's not be vague about this. Gremlins is a movie which is justified solely by the existence within it of a wonderful piece of fluffy animatronics known as Gizmo. Forget Gollum, forget Johnny 5, forget (gasp) Kermit the Frog - no other movie has ever been dragged from such abysmal depths to such entertaining heights by a single virtual character as Gremlins is. That's right, you're paying the entire price of admission to see this cuddly ball of fur be repeatedly and adorably cute, and you're not regretting a cent of it.

It's written by Chris Columbus, the largely unobjectionable but uninspiring writer of The Goonies and director of films such as Home Alone and the first two Harry Potter flicks. Zach Galligan muddles his way through as protagonist Billy, while Phoebe Cates does her best to look like a young Jennifer Connolly as the romantic interest. Stephen Spielberg produces and Joe Dante (The Howling) directs. It's rated PG, but don't be fooled - it's home to a remarkably high body-count of barely-offscreen deaths, plus some very graphic and gory fatalities among the Gremlins themselves (including incidents with a blender and a microwave). Scary it ain't, but it will make you repeatedly go "Ewww!".

Put your brain aside and have some fun with this film if you haven't seen it already. If you can avoid asking questions about the plot, you'll have a ball.

Here's something I didn't know until today. The word "mogwai" is actually a transliteration of the Cantonese word meaning "ghost", "evil spirit" or "demon". So cute!

PS: I've been trying to find a picture of Gizmo as he appeared in the film; while I've turned up any number of cross-eyed patch-furred plush versions, I haven't managed to get a decent one from the actual movie. Anyone able to help me out here? (UPDATE: Never mind, found one, but Blogger is being uncooperative about accepting the upload. I'll try again later.)

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