The Simpsons Decade

Why Gremlins 2 Is an Essential Commentary on Contemporary Pop Culture

In this entry of The Simpsons Decade, Nathan Rabin looks back at a bizarre horror-comedy sequel that went off the rails in spectacular fashion.

by | May 4, 2016 | Comments

Gremlins-2-Title-Card2

 


Few filmmakers are as deeply rooted in the history of comedy as Joe Dante. The Gremlins and The Howling director’s sensibility has always been grounded in comedy that regularly broke the fourth wall and winked at audiences. He was the quintessential kid who grew up on the gleeful pop culture parody of Mad Magazine, the transgressive, transcendent anarchy of the Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies cartoons, the dark comedy of Roger Corman, and the movies of animator-turned-live action director Frank Tashlin, whose fourth wall-breaking comedies, many featuring muse Jerry Lewis (the closest thing we have to a human cartoon), riffed irreverently and ingeniously on movies, advertising, pop culture, and everything else Tashlin found irresistible and vaguely loathsome in equal measure.

While still in college, Dante channeled his gift for twisting, distorting, and subverting the pop culture he loved to ridiculous extremes with The Movie Orgy, an assemblage of B-movie clips, commercials, 16 MM films, and other pop culture debris that, in its original form, ran some seven hours before being cut down to four for a Schlitz Beer-funded tour of colleges.

He then segued into a gig editing trailers for his hero Roger Corman, another job that involved re-contextualizing something someone else had made, transforming the raw material of a feature-length film into a succinct advertisement with a rhythm, pace, and character all its own.

Gremlins-2-Gizmo

Dante made a movie that was a funhouse mirror version of the original, a proper and audacious sequel to Gremlins that was also, on some level, fundamentally about Gremlins.

Continuing in this vein, Dante next made the leap to directing when he and co-director Allan Arkush took Corman’s love of recycling to delirious new heights by making Hollywood Boulevard, a show-business satire about making movies (naturally) that integrated new footage with heaping helpings of stock footage from previous Corman productions into something that was simultaneously new and old, a repeat and a bold new vision.

Dante then lovingly ripped off Jaws with Piranha for Corman (with a script written by a prolific fellow Corman protege named John Sayles, who would become famous for ever so slightly more highbrow fare) and was rewarded for his ingenious thievery with an ongoing mentorship with Steven Spielberg.

Spielberg and Dante both directed entries in Twilight Zone: The Movie. It’s fitting that Dante’s first big studio movie was also an excavation and resurrection of pop-culture’s past, and that Dante, with his inveterate gift for smart-ass subversion, was infinitely better suited to the task than Spielberg, whose sappy segment paled in comparison to the sinister genius of Dante’s work.

Spielberg then produced Dante’s Gremlins, a brilliant, utterly original horror-comedy that also doubled as a bleakly funny semi-parody of E.T, Spielberg’s suburban world of wonder, and the homey sentimentality of Frank Capra. The movie was an enormous smash, even by Spielberg standards.

The studio wanted a sequel in the worst way, but Dante had little interest in revisiting his greatest commercial triumph until they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: a huge budget and something approaching total creative freedom. For a man who earlier had made cinematic magic on next to no money, that was unbelievably appealing.

In an interview with the A.V. Club, Dante said he finally broke down and agreed to make a sequel to Gremlins because executives told him, “If you agree to do this… we’ll let you do whatever you want.” He went on to elaborate that what he wanted was to make a sequel that was a “comment on the original picture, and a comment on sequels, and a comment on what the world was like at the time.” Dante was obsessed with all things pop culture, and by the time 1990’s Gremlins 2: The New Batch came out, that included the alternately malevolent and adorable creatures he, screenwriter Chris Columbus, and producer Spielberg had made famous. So, instead of going the usual route and making a sequel that was more or less a remake of the first film, he made a movie that was a funhouse mirror version of the original, a proper and audacious sequel to Gremlins that was also, on some level, fundamentally about Gremlins.

Gremlins 2 wastes no time, breaking the fourth wall by opening with Bugs Bunny posing coquettishly atop a Warner Bros. logo before Daffy Duck, as is his wont, busts in and attempts to take over the cartoon with predictably disastrous results. What better, purer way to announce your intention to channel the glorious madness of vintage Looney Tunes than with cameos from Warner Bros. animation’s two greatest icons? Beloved characters from the golden age of Warner Bros. animation turn up at the very end of the film as well (in segments written and directed by Chuck Jones, no less) and in between lies a film that somehow manages to sustain the level of manic invention found in vintage Looney Tunes cartoons for an astonishing 107 minutes. It’s an embarrassment of riches, a movie with a million different wild and subversive gags and ideas that are overwhelmingly brilliant and inspired. It’s less hit or miss than hit-hit-hit-hit-hit.

Gremlins-2-Brain-Gremlin

Part of what makes Gremlins 2 such an unexpectedly trenchant satire is that the gremlins are in some ways grotesque, over-the-top burlesques of the people in the audience.

Haas’ brilliant script is ingratiatingly mean-spirited, particularly in its treatment of Gizmo, the E.T-like fur ball whose adorable antics made him a friend to children everywhere and the epicenter of a merchandising bonanza. Poor Gizmo does not have an easy go of it here. The good-natured abuse begins when his human master dies an all-too-predictable death, and then has his humble little shop torn down at the behest of Daniel Clamp (John Glover), an egomaniacal, big-haired parody of a certain current Presidential candidate with a similar proclivity for slapping his name on everything he owns.

Glover makes his Donald Trump surrogate far more endearing than the real thing. Rather than an exemplar of toxic hatred, he comes off as more of an overgrown child who has never been told no, and consequently does not know the meaning of the word, but the character is enormous fun all the same, and even oddly likable in spite of himself.

Gizmo is introduced playing chess and watching television early on, then exits the film eagerly inquiring whether his new/old owners (an attractive, earnest young couple played by Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates) have cable television. Unsurprisingly, he seems to have gotten most of his ideas about the world from television and movies, specifically Rambo.

Gremlins 2 sends Gizmo on a hero’s journey, but refuses to allow him to do much of anything heroic. The filmmaker treats him the way a Mad Magazine parody would, as a furry little merchandising bonanza whose job is to be adorable and do little more than serve as an accidental catalyst for the action. The film even gets a dig in at the exceedingly cuddly, marketable nature of his appeal when Clamp spies him at the end of the movie and proposes merchandising the crap out of him. The film gets to have it both ways, exploiting Gizmo’s adorableness (even a glowering mad scientist played by Christopher Lee grudgingly concedes that he’s cute) while parodying and subverting the shamelessness of his kid-friendly construction.

But Gizmo is adorable and he once again moves the story along when he ends up in Clamp’s most prized possession, a largely automated building that suggests what Jaques Tati might come up with if he were blessed with a Steven Spielberg budget and had a broader, wackier sensibility. There, Gizmo accidentally comes into contact with water and begins to spawn a potent new strain of Mogwai monsters.

The building is a character unto itself, and because it never stops talking, it even gets many of the best lines, which it delivers in the upbeat tone of someone announcing a sale in aisle three. For example, when it catches fire late in the film, it notifies the inhabitants with the wonderfully wordy warning, “Fire: the untamed element, oldest of man’s mysteries, giver of warmth, destroyer of forests. Right now this building is on fire. Yes! The building is on fire! Leave the building! Enact the age old drama of self-preservation!”

The other best lines all belong to Brain Gremlin, a brilliant comic creation with the scaly exterior of a reptilian alien monster and the highbrow intellect and vocabulary of Christopher Hitchens. Imagine a cross between Gore Vidal and a Ghoulie and you’ll have a sense of his incongruous majesty.

Gremlins 2 flaunts its influences, in part by casting Tony Randall, the star of Frank Tashlin’s Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? as the voice — and the soul — of Brain Gremlin, an erudite monster whose master plan is for these crazed, feral creatures to attain the riches of civilization, namely “the Geneva Convention, chamber music, Susan Sontag” and “dinettes, complete bedroom groups, convenient credit, even though we’ve been turned down in the past.”

Gremlins-2-Female

It feels like Dante crammed enough ideas for a half-dozen sequels into a single overstuffed extravaganza.

Gremlins 2 shares with the seminal 1950s satires of Tashlin a sense that capitalism, advertising, television, and show business are all, on some level, insane lies we have convinced ourselves are incontrovertible truths. And as the madness and the anarchy escalates in Gremlins 2, that thin veneer of civilization begins to shatter. Part of what makes Gremlins 2 such an unexpectedly trenchant satire is that the gremlins are in some ways grotesque, over-the-top burlesques of the people in the audience. The gremlins begin as terrifying, sub-human monsters, and over the course of the film, they devolve into typical Americans: violent, insane, rapacious, obsessed with consumer products and trashy pop-culture, gluttonous, half-mad, and unabashedly, unapologetically vulgar. Hell, even Gizmo, the good one, is a TV-addicted fuzzball who models himself after Rambo and loves to boogie to rock and roll.

The malevolent gremlins are mutations of Gizmo but they quickly evolve into mutations of mutations as gremlins of seemingly every stripe and variety begin to appear, from a bat gremlin to a spider gremlin to a gremlin tarted up to look like a two dollar Parisian whore. As a hilarious and insightful Key & Peele sketch suggests, it feels like no idea for Gremlins 2 was ever shot down for being too crazy, extreme, cartoonish, or preposterous. One transcendently ridiculous moment occurs late in the film when, deep into their delirious rampage, Brain Gremlin suddenly morphs into a 1950s Frank Sinatra and leads his monster kin in an elaborate song and dance number straight out of an old MGM musical. Another features a Hulk Hogan cameo that is arguably the apex of his entire entertainment career.

Gremlins 2 inhabits a world where both it and its predecessor exist and are explicitly posited as fictional movies. Gremlins comes into play when Leonard Maltin, who hosts a movie review show filmed in the building, pans a video re-release of Gremlins and is terrorized by actual gremlins for his trouble.

The film is a glorious tribute to controlled chaos that starts off strong and builds an unstoppable momentum until it’s almost too much of a good thing and the fun becomes nearly overwhelming. It leaves audiences exhilarated and exhausted in equal measure. It feels like Dante crammed enough ideas for a half-dozen sequels into a single overstuffed extravaganza, and after Gremlins 2 failed to live up to commercial expectations, a franchise with enormous potential that is beloved by the public lay dormant for a quarter century.

As of late there has been talk of a remake or a reboot or a sequel or some manner of resurrection. I would argue that it would be wrong to mess with the anarchic comic perfection of the first two films but Gremlins 2 is a stirring reminder that in the right hands, with the right script and the right spirit, a sequel to a beloved pop culture touchstone can be not only warranted but damn near essential.


Nathan Rabin if a freelance writer, columnist, the first head writer of The A.V. Club and the author of four books, most recently Weird Al: The Book (with “Weird Al” Yankovic) and You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me.

Follow Nathan on Twitter: @NathanRabin

  • Max Sterling

    I’m starting to think it’s literally impossible to write a commentary on a movie, without including a healthy helping of liberal bull****

    Too bad…since I’m a fan of Gremlins 2, and would have probably enjoyed this essay otherwise.

    • Andrew Joiner

      Where did it get political??
      Either way the sequel is better than the original. Not a surprise though that audiences didn’t get it. A gift for the few at the expense of the many. The kind of thing that won’t happen anymore in risk averse movie making Hollywood. Instead we get superhero’s beating the crap out of each other. Because supervillains are not as famous, and they want Chinese movie-goers to buy tickets.

      • Right Is Right

        Well, referring to Donald Trump as having “toxic hatred” is a starter.

        Then there’s this: “They devolve into typical Americans: violent, insane, rapacious, obsessed with consumer products and trashy pop-culture, gluttonous, half-mad, and unabashedly, unapologetically vulgar.”
        Yep, sounds pretty liberal to me, too.

        • He’s not wrong. Overgeneralizing, to be sure, but not wrong.

          • Right Is Right

            That’s objective

          • KirklesWorth

            Get your definitions straight – overgeneralizing IS wrong: ˌōvərˈjen(ə)rəˌlīz/ – “draw a conclusion or make a statement about (something) that is more general than is justified by the available evidence.”

        • DougP

          Sounds like Americans to many of us.

        • Ace Stephens

          I don’t know anything about the politics of the individual in question and find it odd that others think they do just from this. Some people are very conservative and loathe Donald Trump. Some are very conservative and have negative attitudes about “the typical American.” And pretty much anyone who writes in an interesting manner might do so in a way that exaggerates or generalizes for effect.

          …So I still don’t think the conclusion drawn is necessarily fair or accurate. In fact, if the issue one takes is generalizing people to indicate that they’re bad and one considers being liberal to potentially be bad in itself, isn’t generalizing them to indicate that they’re bad potentially rather hypocritical?

          That’s why this whole discussion wherein one assumes they’re liberal makes basically no sense to me.

          • KirklesWorth

            It’s very simple: did the writer make disparaging references about conservative or liberal sensibilities? Was there a comment about Hillary to balance the comment about Trump? Is it more common for the left or the right to insult the United States and its people? Was there a reference to the good U.S. citizens who aren’t “violent, insane, rapacious, obsessed with consumer products and trashy pop-culture, gluttonous, half-mad, and unabashedly, unapologetically vulgar”? Wasn’t that last sentence unapologetically vulgar (albeit minus swearing)? Isn’t writing articles for a Hollywood review website part of the “trashy pop-culture” he was disparaging? Why were those ridiculous analogies made in an article about gremlin puppets anyway?

          • Ace Stephens

            Conservative sensibilities is a generality which is not the same between all people. Hillary doesn’t have a “stand-in” in the film – at least partially likely being because she wasn’t a particularly notable public figure at the time of the film’s release. The left and right both have an ability to “insult the US and its people” – in a general sense – but they just tend to phrase it differently. There wasn’t a reference to “the good US citizens” because the film is (within the above take) satirizing – through over-the-top gremlins – various (primarily American) societal ills…so, again, there’s no direct reference point in the film. As for the last sentence being “unapologetically vulgar”…I wouldn’t really argue as much but it does feature a “bad word.” And I don’t know what the writer’s views are on whether writing for a film review website is a part of “trashy pop culture” or not (for all I know, they might think this site is here to combat that or they think that, even if this site is a part of that in their view, this is their way to “fight the trashy pop culture beast from within” or something).

            As for why the analogies were made…it’s that they’re clear in the film. It features satirical elements which – through Clamp – mirror Trump and, through gremlins, mirror then-contemporary American society. It’s the entire, evident context of the piece (to examine the film) so I don’t think that context should be negated or distorted.

            The writer may be quite liberal or very conservative or not even “on that spectrum” politically in some form (I mean, it is a somewhat false dichotomy). Your reading of the piece regarding specific political takes due to generalized political lines you perceive indicates more to me about your political concerns than it does the above writer’s.

          • KirklesWorth

            I don’t know if you are a conservative, so I don’t know where your “Conservative sensibilities is a generality which is not the same between all people” is coming from. Nevertheless, Max Sterling feels the writer’s commentary is displaying a liberal bent, as do several of us in this thread.

            The other stuff is just distinctions with little differences. Nitpicking the minutiae doesn’t cleanse the writer’s analogy of Trump as the “exemplar of toxic hatred” – unless you are (1) including the time when Trump was a democrat (not likely since Daniel Clamp was referenced as “an egomaniacal, big-haired parody of a certain current Presidential candidate”), or (2) the statement was about the lefts’ hatred for Trump, which means that his writing is unclear on that point.

            And the fact that you defend the writer against criticisms of liberal commenting says more to me about your political concerns as well.

          • Ace Stephens

            I don’t know if you are a conservative, so I don’t know where your “Conservative sensibilities is a generality which is not the same between all people” is coming from.

            It was said in response to the notion that you can basically say things like, “This isn’t a conservative view.” about something when, in fact, some conservatives can hold views quite similar to those. So when you start saying, “Were they disparaging liberal or conservative sensibilities?” …that depends on what you mean by each of those and why you assume it must be one or the other. It seems to be a mentality framed within broad generalities that doesn’t actually account for the potential possibilities.

            Nevertheless, Max Sterling feels the writer’s commentary is displaying a liberal bent, as do several of us in this thread.

            Right. Because they’re reading into it based on generalities (And, seemingly, don’t know the context of Gremlins 2 very well or else they’d see the satirical targets?). And if one just vaguely alluded to some concern about that, fine. But to assert it plainly without direct evidence other than inferences on the basis of generalities is rationally unfair.

            Nitpicking the minutiae doesn’t cleanse the writer’s analogy of Trump as the “exemplar of toxic hatred”…

            But that remains irrelevant to the suggestion of what the politics of the speaking individual might be as there are many conservatives who dislike Trump (or find him egotistical or even his views filled with hatred or whatever). That’s the issue here is that people are mistaking broad generalities or perceptions for realities in individual instances – and that doesn’t expressly hold up. I mean, are we talking about economic conservatives, social conservatives…what? There are just so many varieties of people and ideas that it’s misleading to pretend that something with so many is clearly this one thing and those who oppose some element, individual, etc. associated are in opposition to the broader “one thing.” Even disliking two or three or four things that seem like what many of a “group” believe doesn’t mean one isn’t still a member of that “group” or perception in a broader sense.

            As for including the time when Trump was a democrat, that’s irrelevant as well except to your seeming perception of that as being more aligned with hatred? Which, again, just indicates your political perceptions more so than it does direct focus toward that of the writer of this piece. Your “1-2” example is an example of a false dichotomy. Human perception is not limited to “black and white” conceptions (although some seem to limit themselves to that). So we wind up with conservatives who think Trump is the worst and liberals who think Trump is good and all sorts of stuff between and around that. Now, in terms of generalities or probabilities, there might be more room for variance in there which distances such things from what the immediate “generality-driven” conclusion might be. But we don’t know those things in an individual instance without more information. Which is why we don’t know if the writer of this is liberal or not. It makes sense to have one’s suspicions, perhaps, but that’s not the same thing as asserting it as evident.

            And the fact that you defend the writer against criticisms of liberal commenting says more to me about your political concerns as well.

            Yes – that I don’t like people being unfairly generalized as it occurs to all people (not just those on the right and the left…and in the middle…and completely politically uninvolved…and on and on). But if you’ve mistaken this for a “false dichotomy” situation in the hopes that I’m somehow a “liberal” to take on the suggestion that somebody is a liberal (as though that’s a negative brand in itself), you’re mistaken in drawing that conclusion. I would do the same if someone had been alluding to Hillary in various negative ways relevant to the material and someone had said, in reply, “You must be one of those conservatives. Ugh.”-type stuff. Because it is not a clearly accurate assessment.

            It is more about the person making such claims being limited in their perception of politics and sort of “us/them” stuff (based on generalities) than it is about having a clear reasoning that holds up. Which kind of denies individuals of their agency (which, in terms of generalities, doesn’t seem very conservative to me…) and how you or I or anybody else doesn’t have to like Trump if we’re conservative or like Hillary if we’re liberal or…whatever. It’s nowhere near that simple.

          • KirklesWorth

            The most I can agree with you on is that some conservatives hate Trump and some liberals like Trump. And if you are saying that “violent, insane, rapacious, obsessed with consumer products and trashy pop-culture, gluttonous, half-mad, and unabashedly, unapologetically vulgar” is a description the writer is making for liberals (aka “typical Americans”), then I would concur – otherwise, the (normal) people I know are nothing like that.

            If all you can boil it down to is “that is your opinion, not mine” and “everybody is different”, then why do you feel the need for you to pad it into 100-word essays, play word games that do little to clarify, and fog the issue? You claim I set up false dichotomies while you play at the opposite end of the spectrum with over-generalities.

            Contrary to the smokescreen you are trying to erect, the writer is speaking very specifically and in no uncertain terms whatsoever. Is there any question regarding the writer’s contempt for Trump?

            (1) “…an egomaniacal, big-haired parody of a certain current Presidential candidate with a similar proclivity for slapping his name on everything he owns.” (2) “Glover makes his Donald Trump surrogate far more endearing than the real thing.” (3) “Rather than an exemplar of toxic hatred…”

            Is there any question regarding the writer’s contempt for “typical Americans”?

            “…they devolve into typical Americans: violent, insane, rapacious, obsessed with consumer products and trashy pop-culture, gluttonous, half-mad, and unabashedly, unapologetically vulgar.”

            This “gray area” you seem to be promoting seems pretty black-and-white to me. If the writer could have simply restrained himself from making social commentaries that attack the republican candidate and demeans Americans (exactly what Max Sterling’s original comment was saying), then we wouldn’t be involved in this discussion.

            The irony is, liberals often believe they don’t have a bias, which is kind of what you are promoting – both about this article and about yourself.

          • Ace Stephens

            If you have no interest in the nuance of the discussion or simply very little time, you can just read the final paragraph in this reply. I have made it bold for your convenience.

            And if you are saying that “violent, insane, rapacious, obsessed with consumer products and trashy pop-culture, gluttonous, half-mad, and unabashedly, unapologetically vulgar” is a description the writer is making for liberals (aka “typical Americans”), then I would concur – otherwise, the (normal) people I know are nothing like that.

            …The piece above is not about liberals or conservatives – it’s about the film’s satire. You keep trying to frame it in ways that are not evident, which speaks far more toward the limitations/fixations of your consideration than it does the writer’s political perspective.

            If all you can boil it down to is “that is your opinion, not mine” and “everybody is different”

            I never said the former (I’m not speaking in terms of opinion – I’m speaking in terms of fact…and it’s a fact that a few views which don’t align with generalities about “conservatives” do not make somebody a “liberal”) and, as for the latter, I simply indicated that not everybody is going to fit into whatever box you assume they will on the basis of a few random things you associate with a generality.

            …then why do you feel the need for you to pad it into 100-word essays…

            I’m not “padding” anything. I am simply attempting to thoroughly address the matter in the hope that understanding will be found.

            …play word games that do little to clarify…

            I’m not playing games. I’m addressing you directly and thoroughly to the best of my ability.

            …and fog the issue?

            How is it fogging the issue to indicate that there are varying views among conservatives and liberals about a variety of things and therefore assumptions and generalities (about conservatives and liberals) are not the same as the attitudes of specific individuals?

            Contrary to the smokescreen you are trying to erect…

            It’s not a smokescreen. Stop with these odd accusations and – more than you have (although, to what degree you have, you have conceded that some elements of what I say are true) – address my points rather than claiming some seeming confusion and therefore indicating I must have some ulterior motive or agenda. Again, this says more about how you perceive things than it says anything about what I’m saying.

            …the writer is speaking very specifically and in no uncertain terms whatsoever.

            But not regarding a conservative or liberal framework you have assumed.

            Is there any question regarding the writer’s contempt for Trump?

            I never questioned that. Although, as you yourself admit (when saying you agree that some conservatives hate Trump), that means nothing expressly regarding whether the writer is conservative or not (not that not being conservative intrinsically makes one a liberal).

            Is there any question regarding the writer’s contempt for “typical Americans”?

            Yes, because they’re speaking in relation to what the film is attempting to convey that might be mirrored, in some form, in modern mentalities. And, regardless – even if that was a fully earnest statement on their part rather than an exaggeration within the satire in order to make their point about the satire…again, various conservatives express frustration at the level of violence in the culture, the level of “trashy pop culture,” the vulgarity, etc. And feel as though it is “taking over” the country – which they typically loathe the suggestion of it doing. So, again, that (indicating that “typical Americans” may be considered something negative in their view) is not something which paints the writer as conservative in any immediate sense.

            This “gray area” you seem to be promoting seems pretty black-and-white to me.

            I’m not promoting a “gray area.” Only people who think things are black and white to begin with would think that someone saying they’re not must mean they’re gray. Things exist in other colors. Not that I’m saying they must always do so. But the reason I’m not saying that is because I rarely think in terms of “black and white” regarding observable data that features many variables. I speak in terms of reason. So if you can come up with a great argument as to why making negative comments about Trump and/or “the typical American” is something only a liberal can do, I will concede that asserting that the writer is liberal (on this basis) is fair/accurate.

            If the writer could have simply restrained himself from making social commentaries that attack the republican candidate and demeans Americans (exactly what Max Sterling’s original comment was saying), then we wouldn’t be involved in this discussion.

            When they relate directly to the content of the subject they’re discussing (Gremlins 2 and whatever potential applicability it might be perceived to have today), they would be negligent in their covering of the subject to not mention Trump and commentary on the American populace’s consumerism – as those are direct targets of the film’s satire. So if the writer had “refrained himself” from commenting on such things, they wouldn’t have been doing their job. And as for “attack” and “demean”…whether those terms apply to the commentary depends on one’s perception of their accuracy or artfulness or similar (within what the author was attempting to convey).

            I mean, there will be conservatives out there who think Trump is egomaniacal and that the typical American is into trashy pop culture, violence, gluttony, etc. So they might think the writer is just speaking accurately. And someone else might be quite conservative, like Trump and think the typical American hates the things the piece claims they’re akin to…yet still feel that, within the context of Gremlins 2 and a satirical/exaggerated commentary, the overall premise of what they’re saying has a lot of validity.

            The irony is, liberals often believe they don’t have a bias, which is kind of what you are promoting – both about this article and about yourself.

            I’m not a liberal so, personally, I don’t know what to make of that (except that it relates still to your fixation upon simplistic perceptions of things which overgeneralize and make things “us/them”). I have no immediate biases regarding the content of Gremlins 2 – I’ve seen it and am aware of it from a critical/scholarly perspective (in terms of what “analysis” seems to have been broadly applied to its content). Regarding conservatives as opposed to liberals, I don’t care – on a personal level – which of those someone identifies with (if either) rather than what views they genuinely hold – since, again, there’s so much variance.

            And as far as “bias” does go on my part, I am generally biased against views which are narrow-minded by thinking that if something isn’t this, it is inherently that. Because that is not my awareness of the world in terms of most things people identify as/with. Again, I know (and, in fact, am related to…) conservatives who hate Trump, who are upset at what they consider “the typical American” these days. I know liberals who like Trump (I have not heard any of them in-person claim to love him politically, although I have heard some claim they intend to vote for him), who might similarly take issue with the notion that it’s “typical Americans” who are these apparently negative traits because they tend to think it’s only those in this or that realm…and whatever. However, in their case, it seems they have a (narrow-minded) tendency to, as you seem to (presumably in the realm of conservatives but who knows), believe themselves to be a part of or directly associated with what the “typical American” is or constitutes or represents. However, I imagine that if we compared what you perceive that (“typical American” that is positive – or at least not these negative things) to be and what they perceive that to be, there would be significant differences for a variety of reasons.

            So, as far as I can tell, I have no immediate bias in this case against anything except your bias, which seems not to expressly be against liberals (although predominantly framing things in that manner – again, I would also object if it was the same directed at conservatives) but more so against the notion that the world is more complex than to think it’s accurate that if someone’s stance doesn’t align with generalities about one thing, they must inherently be its perceived opposite. That is simply factually inaccurate.

            The issue here seems to be, in terms of our disconnect with communication, that I’m arguing in terms of reason/facts and you’re arguing in terms of “how you feel” about something due to generalities you’ve mistaken for commonalities.

          • NORMAN DOSTAL

            Hillary isn’t satirized in the movie so it would make zero sense to mention her

        • NORMAN DOSTAL

          well, Trump does spew toxic hatred-thats not debatable-unless you think saying “Mexicans come over here and rape and kill and steal from everyone” isn’t hatred on some level!

    • Right Is Right

      I stopped reading after the “writer” labeled Americans “unabashedly vulgar.”

      • fastandsloppy

        What? Are you saying we’re fucking not?

        • KirklesWorth

          Speak for yourself.

      • KirklesWorth

        Sounds like projection, since the writer condemns exactly what he employs.

      • Ace Stephens

        I think that was a bit of “poetic” language in order to stress the caricature within the satire. But I understand what you mean as that isn’t fully clear and it may have just been a jab.

        However, I have a hard time believing that they would earnestly believe the “typical American” to be accurately described as “insane” and “violent” and all these other things. I think it was a willful exaggeration that is somewhat miscontextualized (both within the article and without).

        • KirklesWorth

          And that “poetic language” just so happens to target a certain political point of view and not the other. And the writer didn’t say “they devolve into SOME Americans: violent, insane, rapacious, obsessed with consumer products and trashy pop-culture, gluttonous, half-mad, and unabashedly, unapologetically vulgar”, he said “TYPICAL Americans”. That isn’t just a jab at a few bad eggs – it’s a deliberate insult to most Americans. As one of those typical Americans, I don’t appreciate getting lumped into a group that this ridiculous and unwarranted “willful exaggeration” has created in an attempt to make a societal (liberal) point. The wording is so specific and unambiguous, I have a hard time swallowing the idea that it was somehow “miscontextualized”.

          • Ace Stephens

            How does it attack a political point of view (Trump might be criticized but Trump is certainly not representative of all conservatives)? If you’re mad at the film for satirizing American societal ills, be mad at the film rather than the writer pointing it out. I’ve heard plenty if conservatives talk about “how bad things are getting” in the (American) culture today just like I have liberals so I don’t know what your fixation is on attributing critical perspectives to “just one side” or similar.

            As for “typical Americans,” they (both Dante and the above writer) are speaking to a degree within the work’s satirical context which exaggerates and plays upon what might be considered stereotypes.

            As for you being a “typical American,” I don’t know what that means to you but I’m almost certain that it’s based on a generality not founded within a satirical context and so it doesn’t live up expressly to the above description for that reason if no other.

            The “societal” point the film makes is not expressly liberal nor is pointing it out (or even agreeing with or stressing it). Again, I have heard conservatives complain about generalities within “American culture” currently. Also, as far as generalities go, the franchise has a habit of a character basically comparing gremlins and their issues to immigrants causing problems…which seems more aligned with a generalization of “conservative” concerns these days. But it’s not played up in the sequel as much as the original so, of course, it’s not really noted here as an analogy (plus, the first film was less overtly satirical).

            The wording is specific because the writer is a satirical writer (using “poetic language”) examining something satirical and you’re negating the context because of your own fixations otherwise. Enough to – if you somehow are a “typical American” (which would make you incredibly average within the national framework) – likely be reflecting further their point that seems to stress how off-base some perceptions/behaviors by that generality might be.

            So, really, your miscontextualizing may just be making things worse and partially “making their point for them” in the eyes of some critically-minded individuals, which (obviously) includes both conservatives and liberals. Although, if your appraisal is remotely accurate – or others simply follow along the same mentality/generality anyway, yes…self-claimed conservatives might resent it (the writer’s views and/or your potentially making them look bad by possibly helping to “prove the writer’s point” – if you are somehow representative or perceived to be representative of conservatives or…whatever in those regards – more).

            But the evident conclusion to me here is that your take of this piece (whatever your politics, although your fixation on seemingly “calling out liberals” whether they’re necessarily there or not tends to indicate a probability there) is oversimplified and has no immediate satirical construct to justify it more as commentary/comedy/etc. And, therefore, it is likely flawed contextually (regarding itself as well as a reading of this piece).

  • Kyle Davidson

    I didn’t watch this for the longest time because I didn’t love the original, when I finally did see it I was blown away at how off the walls and fun it was, totally live action Looney Tunes. That Key and Peele clip is brilliant and just backs up how insane and awesome this film is. Some films are crazy on paper but this one is crazy on screen.

  • joe

    It was better then the first one!! Loved that movie! “What we want is, I think, what everyone wants, and what you and your viewers have: civiLIIIIIIzation

  • Right Is Right

    One of the few sequels to surpass the original in entertainment value.

    • NORMAN DOSTAL

      not even close-its fun, but the original is a classic

  • Daniel Monserat

    I watched Gremlins 2 countless times as a kid, but even then I could see there was something special about it in comparison to its predecessor and most of the horror/comedy movies of the time. Great essay on what is definitely a cult classic,

  • I can’t help but associate that ‘Key & Peele’ Sketch now whenever I think of Gremlins 2 now. A satire of a satire. Love it!

  • THX11384EB

    AMEN

  • Even though I’ll admit that the first Gremlins is the better movie in terms of overall structure, Gremlins 2 is my personal favourite for the unending amount of gags. I watch both of them back-to-back every Christmas with my nieces. Obviously, the sequel isn’t a Christmas movie, but you kind of HAVE to watch them back-to-back, right?

  • Max Sterling

    This is the part where I stopped reading:

    “Gremlins 2 shares with the seminal 1950s satires of Tashlin a sense that capitalism, advertising, television, and show business are all, on some level, insane lies we have convinced ourselves are incontrovertible truths.”

    A wad this pretentious would irritate me even if I agreed with the sentiment. The fact that it’s tedious liberal crapola, made me sorry I started reading this in the first place.

  • Farty Fartsalot

    Regardless, it’s a stinky sequel

  • BaconMushroomMelt

    People sure need to grow some thicker skin. That whole off topic discussion there basically amounts to taking a sledgehammer to a pillow fight.

  • Reinaldo Favoreto Júnior Obras

    o my god, I can’t read all of this, can’t you be more objective?

  • Jason Ross

    Gremlins 2 also features Ted Cruz in the role of television vampire…

  • Joe

    And we have to acknowledge the virtuoso acting performance of noted film composer Jerry Goldsmith.

  • ChimpJnr

    My old apartment in NYC was opposite the building from “Gremlins 2″ (40th and Park Avenue South”). Consequently, rarely a week went by where I didn’t think of it and consider rewatching the movie, though I don’t think I’ve seen it since it was first released.

Tag Cloud

Showtime Drama historical drama Holidays dc Warner Bros. MSNBC Animation Disney PBS Universal Calendar Interview Nickelodeon sitcom Premiere Dates based on movie Box Office American Society of Cinematographers 45 aliens A&E Character Guide Teen cooking politics dramedy talk show WGN Pirates cinemax adventure TCA 2017 Super Bowl discovery ITV Adult Swim Toys dceu Martial Arts social media singing competition supernatural Election Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Pop Nat Geo Comedy Central Rock Marvel Video Games Reality GoT NYCC Lionsgate APB TBS crime thriller GIFs Kids & Family Grammys 2015 DC Comics ABC Logo Musicals Fox News AMC DC Universe crime drama medical drama Sci-Fi CNN Extras ABC Family justice league SDCC Action NBC History Opinion Bravo Trailer TV Land TLC Nominations Fantasy Spring TV Biopics Superheroes Comedy OWN what to watch Cartoon Network Emmys MTV Writers Guild of America Winter TV FOX Mystery Tomatazos X-Men Certified Fresh Musical Star Wars Trivia GLAAD Fall TV The CW CMT Countdown TV Country Sundance TIFF Crackle cops Red Carpet Schedule CBS transformers Reality Competition police drama LGBTQ comiccon HBO E! Star Trek political drama Infographic biography CBS All Access binge technology 007 TCM Sneak Peek Awards Ghostbusters Hulu Best and Worst El Rey crime thriller docudrama harry potter Cosplay Starz VH1 E3 TruTV USA Western YA BET Disney Channel 21st Century Fox Esquire Valentine's Day Rom-Com Netflix period drama 24 frames Dark Horse Comics BBC Mindy Kaling psycho IFC cats Food Network Thanksgiving Syfy TNT Tumblr 2016 Marathons zombie sports TCA diversity boxoffice FX Freeform PaleyFest Year in Review Comic Book war science fiction RT History Winners Summer Rocky vampires BBC America Mary Tyler Moore Paramount Set visit Podcast Lifetime SundanceTV DirecTV 2017 Horror serial killer romance The Arrangement Music Oscars Photos Polls and Games President VICE Amazon FXX travel ESPN First Look Watching Series Ellie Kemper composers Masterpiece