[Join your host, John Holliday, in the review column "A Movie A Week" as he shares his spoiler-free thoughts on our collection of DVD / Blu-ray titles.]
Of all the holiday classics, Christmas seems to win in every way. The movies range from heart-warming to adventurous to funny and even scary. I like a little of everything and that's why this week's movie was chosen to represent the pack. It's pure 80's fun that cashed in on lots of merchandise (again, typical of the decade) and still brings a profit today. With lots of eventual big names, both in front of and behind the camera, it's no wonder to us nearly thirty years later that people are still in love with this movie and it's sequel.
We're talking about none other than Joe Dante's Gremlins. In one of my favorite and most memorable opening scenes, a dad makes his way through Chinatown looking for a unique gizmo of some sort as a Christmas present for his son. He is lead by a local boy to his grandpa's antique shop down an "off the map" stairway. It is there that he finds a Mogwai, a mysterious creature that the old shopkeeper refuses to sell due to the amount of responsibility required to care for them. There are three now very famous rules that must be kept: "First of all, keep him out of the light; he hates bright light, especially sunlight. It'll kill him. Second, don't give him any water, not even to drink. But the most important rule, the rule you can never forget, no matter how much he cries, no matter how much he begs, never feed him after midnight."
When Billy gets his early present, which his father has lovingly named Gizmo, he immediately falls in love with it's overwhelming cuteness. But it isn't long before the rules start being broken. Corey Feldman plays Pete, Billy's younger friend, in one of his lesser annoying roles. The whole story's conflict, however, is all his fault when he knocks over a glass of water on Gizmo causing him to multiply. His sprouts are much more rotten than he is and they manage to get their ornery hands on some food after midnight. Overnight, they enter the pupal stage and soon emerge as the nasty little green gremlins. They wreak havoc on the town and party in every single hotspot at a very comedic level. Of course, the fate of them all is in the hands of Billy and the adorable tiny Gizmo.
Gremlins is first and foremost a comedy and it understandably helped in the creation of the PG-13 rating. Produced by Steven Spielberg, you know it's full of the good stuff left out of children's movies these days. There's mild language, slight adult humor, and some grotesque moments. But none of it should be considered too much by any standards. For these reasons, it's also a movie the whole family can enjoy which is one of it's biggest strengths. Chris Columbus' script is accompanied by the very catchy score from Jerry Goldsmith. Even the casual fan could recognize it's main theme any day of the week but special note should be on his work on Gizmo's beautiful little humming song.
Plop this one in the "they don't make 'em like they used to" category. It's like there once was an entire genre that's currently being neglected in theaters. Nowadays we have movies for adults and then kids movies. This… was a FAMILY movie and that's something very important to our society that should be cherished. That's why I give Gremlins:
What movie would you like to see John review next week? Your suggestions are always welcome at: firstname.lastname@example.org