GREMLINS: My Movie Review

Okay, this one’s probably going to get me into trouble, but I remember watching Gremlins as a young person back in 1984, and really hating it.

It’s supposedly a “holiday” movie, so I watched it again this week.

And…I still hated it. Why? Oh, where to begin…

The Asian mystic is a racist trope. The three important cautionary lessons about mogwai are revealed in a vague voice-over to the Dad (who’s not even the POV character). 100% of the pre-gremlin jokes are cartoony and awful. Most of the supporting characters are incredibly broad and cliched (the bumbling inventor father, the bitchy Mrs. Deagle), and they don’t have anything in the way of character arcs, and don’t have anything to do with Billy or his story. For example, in a series of stupid scenes, Mrs. Deagle is set up as a bitchy antagonist, but there is absolutely no pay-off: later, she’s casually dispatched by the gremlins when she’s flung out into the snow, and never heard from again.

Honestly, everything about the writing seems lazy and/or cliched.

Me, watching this incredibly stupid movie.

Me, watching this incredibly stupid movie.

Meanwhile, the biology of the gremlins…oh, Lord, don’t get me started. They reproduce asexually (and almost INSTANTLY) by getting WET, they’re killed by sunlight, they appear to speak English and have a full working knowledge of all pop culture (and most science) from birth. Their various “life stages” apparently hate each other. They can’t be fed after midnight? Midnight where? And why not?

This is, like, the worst world-building I’ve ever seen in my life. None of it makes any sense, or resembles “reality” in even the vaguest possible way.

As for Billy, his character is: he’s a cute, nice guy. His motivation is: he wants to kill the gremlins (and date Kate, who is as perfunctory a female lead as is cinematically possible). Nothing he does sets anything in motion, he makes absolutely no mistakes he has to redeem himself for, and it’s Gizmo, not him, who saves things in the end (though Billy does destroy the gremlins in the movie theater in literally the most hackneyed movie way possible: by turning on “gas” and, 20 seconds later, the whole theater explodes, killing every last gremlin except Stripe).

There’s a ton of convoluted backstory about Billy’s life (he works at a bank! his dad is a terrible inventor! Billy likes his dog! Billy has a friend who sells Christmas trees!), but none of it is in any way related to anything in the rest of the story, or is even, like, vaguely interesting.

And of course he doesn’t really change or learn anything, except maybe, “Be sure to listen to your dad when he brings home a crazy pet and lazily mumbles something about three important rules.”

This screenplay seems to like it was written by a stupid child. (It’s actually written by Chris Columbus, so I’m not far off.)

I’m watching all of this unfold, and occasionally relating it to Michael, driving him crazy. Finally, he says, “It’s not supposed to make sense! It’s just supposed to be stupid and fun with lots of scenes of gremlins doing crazy s**t.”

And yeah, I agree that the gremlin in the microwave is great.

The rest of it? I give up

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2 Responses to “GREMLINS: My Movie Review”

  1. armwia 20 December 2016 at 7:03 pm #

    How I have missed your movie reviews! I could not agree more with you about this movie. As a kid I was able to walk out of the movie theater and wait for my friend at the food court. My friend, who is now my husband, thought it was a great movie and laughed his ass off. We don’t go out to the movie together.

    • bhartinger 20 December 2016 at 7:46 pm #

      We're a small group, but dammit, we're RIGHT about this movie! Thanks for chiming in.

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