Friday, September 09, 2005

Did that really happen?
'Gremlins 2'

It's a strange emotion when you watch a movie about 10 years after you first saw it and realize: 1. It's one of the worst movies you've ever seen, 2. You actually liked it the first time through.

This was the case with me seeing 'Gremlins 2' last night on HBO. I vividly remember seeing it in theaters the first weekend it was released, and my brother and I both enjoyed it. But seeing it now, I can't help but think 'Gremlins 2' has aged worse than almost any movie I've seen. Before you disagree with me, let me remind you of one scene in particular:

In a series of scenes designed to show the audience just how crazy and out of control these gremlins are, the 'movie' you're watching 'stops' because there are gremlins in the projection booth. The film burns away and we see gremlins doing shadow puppets on the screen. The next shot is of a woman and her child coming out of the theater and complaining to the manager of the problem, and we then see the projectionist who quits because of the gremlins, who 'only want to see Snow White.' It's the next part that almost made me vomit: The manager goes into the theater and finds none other than Hulk Hogan, who yells at the gremlins to put the movie back on.


Yes, this scene actually exists. The Hulk Hogan Scene epitomizes how unwatchable 'Gremlins 2' is compared to the original. 'Gremlins' had some slapstick in it, but was also actually pretty damn scary in a few scenes. In 'Gremlins 2,' director Joe Dante seems intent on filming every possible pop culture gag he can, even if the plot may occasionally get in the way. The best example of this is near the end when the characters are trying to figure out a way to kill the gremlins, it's played tense by Dante, but then he randomly switches to a Gremlins Phantom of the Opera scene, which quickly ends and puts us back into the plot. Huh?

'Gremlins 2' is another example of how the 'Yeah We Know It's a Movie' convention does not work. There are a few instances where characters acknowledge the existence of the original 'Gremlins' movie. One in particular is a shot of Leonard Maltin reviewing 'Gremlins' only to be attacked by the creatures. Oh, so the movie 'Gremlins' exists in the 'Gremlins 2' world? Did you happen to notice that the main characters in 'Gremlins' are actually real and work for the cable network that is broadcasting a review of 'Gremlins'?

There are a few saving graces (okay, two):

--Since this is Joe Dante, that means Dick Miller is in the film as well, and he's his usual awesome self.

--The puppetry on the 'brain' gremlin is fantastic and actually better than some CGI mouth work (George Lucas, take note). I forgot about this character (voiced by Tony Randall), it's probably the best part of the movie.

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