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He Said, She Said Review Site


What She said:


Gremlins is one of those classically '80s films that The He absolutely loves. That entire decade is of the genre of film that defined his childhood, and so he gets giddy nearly every time we decide to give a movie from that time a viewing. Much maligned by some of the industry's recent DVD releases, and searching for something to watch that in some way links itself to the holidays, we decided to give Gremlins a whirl. I recall watching this movie as a youth, and I've seen it a few times since then, but I cannot say it's one of those films to invokes any special memories. My formative years were much more defined by movies like Clueless or Empire Records. I'm not sure why I'm telling you this other than to clarify that I do not view Gremlins through rose colored glasses, so to speak.


Now, on to the movie. Gremlins is about 20-something year old Billy, a world-class doofus who works at a bank and still lives with his parents. Actually, he's still getting his legs under him, and so it makes sense that he's living with Mommy and Daddy. Anyway, Billy's father wants to find his son the ultimate gift--something really special that Billy will never forget. He winds up in a somewhat shady basement shop in Chinatown, where he beholds something truly unique, a little furry creature called a Mogwai. The shop owner does not want to sell it, but his grandson sells it out from under him to Billy's father in a back alley deal. He's warned that Mogwais come with three rules: 1.) Keep them out of the sunlight 2.) Do not get them wet and 3.) No matter how much they beg, do not feed them after midnight.


Normal people would probably be hesitant to purchase an animal that comes with such strict and frankly bizarre rules, but not Billy's father. Indeed, Billy is thrilled to receive his Mogwai, and his mother doesn't even bat an eyelash at such a strange creature. Well, it doesn't take long before things start to go downhill. The foolish and irresponsible Billy spills water on his Mogwai, named Gizmo, the same night that he gets it. This causes Gizmo to spontaneously reproduce, popping out five new Mogwais. Interestingly, it turns out that not all Mogwais are as well-behaved as Gizmo. The little ones immediately start causing trouble, and they have a ferocious appetite. Led by a dominant Mogwai with a white mohawk, the group revolts, quickly getting their hands on food after midnight and turning into these little slimy demons called gremlins. They begin to reproduce in droves and terrorize the small idyllic town that Billy calls home. Billy must right his wrongs and try to stop the gremlins before it's too late. Oh, and he's wooing the beautiful Kate at the same time. In other words, Billy has his hands full.

So there ya go. Does that plot description sound absurd enough for you? This is a fantasy/comedy/horror film and it's an odd blend indeed. That's not to say that it doesn't work. The movie is just weird enough that it manages to keep viewers fascinated and entertained for its full two hour runtime. Quite a feat indeed. That said, I couldn't help but mock the movie for its silliness as it unfolded. From start to finish, the movie is just so out there. It has very little grasp of reality. Can Billy and his family really be that stupid and naive? What could Kate possibly see in Billy? How does Billy function from day-to-day being such an utter moron? These are all big questions for which I have no answers.


The bottom line is that Billy and crew really are this dumb, and so I just have to live with it and enjoy the movie at its face value. As mentioned, it's an odd combination of many genres. It's a little bit scary, but not really a true horror film. It's funny at moments, but in a screwball kind of way. It's definitely a fantasy, and oozes '80s charm. And it's also satirical in some of its handlings. Definitely a whole lot wrapped into one.

The acting gets it done. This isn't really a film marked by Oscar-winning performances, nor does it need to be. Zach Galligan is doe-eyed as young Billy, and '80s phenom Phoebe Cates plays the heroine Kate. I don't recognize the actors that played Billy's parents, but they were both pretty funny.

And there you have it. Gremlins is, to me, extremely weird, and yet satisfyingly entertaining. I'm annoyed by how clueless all of its characters seem to be, but I also admit to enjoying the movie when taken at its face value. It was good enough to serve its purpose as an iconic '80s movie.

Thumbs mostly up.


What He said:


It recently occurred to me that we’ve watched absolutely no Christmas movies this year. When I realized that, I wanted to watch one, but not a sappy one. I think I actually prefer quirky non-traditional Christmas movies over some of the more “heart-warming” ones. So when we were looking through Amazon Prime, I prosed to the She we check this 80s classic out.
Searching for a special Christmas present for his son Billy, Randall Peltzer – a struggling inventor – finds himself in Chinatown. He comes across a kid who tells him that his grandfather owns a shop filled with all kinds of old and unique items. Rand (Hoyt Axton) reluctantly follows the kid with the goal of finding Billy (Zach Galligan) a gift, as well as hoping to sell the old man a few of his inventions. Rand is always trying to sell something. The problem is most of his inventions don’t work.

While looking around the store, Rand comes across a small furry creature called a Mogwai. This is exactly the kind of thing Rand is looking for, but the old man refuses to sell him (later named Gizmo). He tells Rand that Mogwai require too much care for him and his son. Behind the old man’s back, the grandson sells Gizmo to Rand for $200. Before departing, he tells Rand that there are three rules he must follow. First, Gizmo cannot be exposed to bright light, particularly the sun. He says he could actually kill Gizmo. The other two are never get him wet or feed him after midnight. The kid doesn’t say why, just that it’s very important to follow these rules.


The She pointed this out in her review and I’m pretty sure I mentioned it to her during the movie, but neither Billy nor his mother (played by Francis Lee McCain) seem to be bothered by the fact Rand brought home a species that is completely unknown to the scientific community, nor the fact that he comes with a set of rules. It bothered her, but I think it’s hilarious (and intentional). Look at the picture of that town in her review. If that ain’t a picture perfect small American town, I don’t know what is. These people live in what is essentially this movie’s version of Pleasantville. It’s something of an homage to 1950s Americana, as well as old monster movies. Personally, I love it.

So anyway, Billy, who the She points out is somewhat of a doofus, accidentally gets Gizmo wet. The result is 5 more Mogwai. Apparently, these little creatures multiply when they get wet. He also accidentally, again he’s a bit of an oaf, feeds them after midnight. This causes the 5 additional Mogwai to go into some kind of cocoon and emerge as reptilian-like little demons that seem to live for no other reason than to wreak havoc. I mean that quite literally, these guys live for causing trouble. They like to do things such as hotwire traffic lights so that they will cause car accidents, throw things at people, bite, scratch, and eat until their black little hearts are content. They also like to smoke, drink, and watch movies.

They are led by one Billy refers to as Stripe (voiced by Frank Welker). The She mentioned that every Mogwai besides Gizmo is pretty much evil, which is true. But Stripe is clearly the leader. He’s the meanest, smartest, and most ruthless of them all. He’s a great villain for this kind of movie. He’s just scary enough to give this movie some credibility as a horror/comedy, but make no mistake this is still a comedy.  He’s a mean little bastard, but still amusing too.

So once they multiply even more, it is only a matter of time before they begin to take over this picturesque little town and turn it into hell on Earth. It’s up to Billy and his girlfriend Kate, played by 80s babe Phoebe Cates, to put a stop to these menacing little monsters.


I think it’s been quite some time since I’ve seen this movie. I think the last time I saw it was when my niece picked up a copy of it at Santa’s Secret Workshop for a couple of dollars. I remember she was so excited to get it that she brought it to the family party and demanded we put it on TV. I hadn’t seen it in years and remember thinking, “Woh, this is a little harsh for children” (she maybe 5 years old). I also remember thinking it was totally hokey. I remember as a kid thinking it was scary and to a kid it probably still is. Hell, it sort of is now. It doesn’t scare me, but it’s got some viable horror elements. It’s hokier than hell too though. It’s a bizarre, yet wonderful mix of humor and horror that isn’t a kids movie nor is it a full blown horror, so it’s not like kids can’t watch it. It might be slightly scary for very young children, but pretty much anyone can watch this movie and appreciate it for different reasons. Kids will like the creatures and scares, while adults will laugh at the absurdity.

The acting is hilarious. Billy is a very naïve, if not downright dopey, young man trying to make it in the world. He’s an honest kid trying to make it as an adult. But he’s got this youngness to him that’s sort of charming. He’s a “grown up”, but still a big kid. He’s a non-traditional, but loveable hero. I also loved his dad, played by Hoyt Axton. Great voice and screen presence. The ladies are not to be left out either. His mother has a fantastic action sequence fighting the gremlins when they first make themselves known, which starts in her kitchen, and ends inside her Christmas tree. Phoebe Cates also has a pretty funny monologue, as she is reminiscing why she hates Christmas. It is dark, but hilarious at the same time. She was also a total babe in the 80s and it was always nice to see her on screen.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on December 31, 2014.