"Gremlins 2" Is Underrated

Still Holds Up After All These Years


As an enthusiastic MoviePass holder I see a ton of movies and not all of them are good. Because I can see a movie a day everyday for a ridiculously small price, my willingness to see a movie has come down to timing, i.e., what is playing near me right now? Which is how I wound up watching Gremlins 2: The New Batch at midnight a couple weeks ago.

I was one of three people in the audience, two loner-looking youngish dudes and me. As the movie went on, certain scenes and characters were familiar but it made me realize I may not have actually ever seen this movie all the way through. The original Gremlins definitely, but Gremlins 2 slipped under my radar. If this is the case for you too, I'm begging, you go stream it somewhere now.

Yes it's absurd and totally B-movie, but also legitimately hilarious. A good portion of the plot centers around the newly hatched set of gremlins getting into a DNA splicing lab where they engage in all manner of hijinks and start ingesting all of the experiments. This allows for never-before-seen types of gremlins to emerge and delight — the suddenly super-smart gremlin who drinks the brain juice and gains the ability to speak (and of course a pair of glasses), the half-bat flying gremlin, the half-spider gremlin, the growing-tomatoes-out-of-my-skin gremlin (he drank some bioengineered veggie cocktail), a new lady gremlin, and on and on. 

According to the newly genius and brain-juiced gremlin, all they really want is to be like us and have lives and create a world for themselves. This explains the constant dressing up and playing at human roles: repairmen, business men, doctors, servers, etc., but of course all done with that classic gremlin malice. The sequel is set within the confines of a NYC skyscraper home to multiple businesses, so there are lot of roles to be played by these little troublemakers. The population grows dramatically after some fires set off the sprinkler system (the existing gremlins generate new gremlins when they get wet remember?) so they are soon everywhere and doing everything. Because there are just so many of them, we get a glimpse into what kind of world they would be creating and yes, they're pretty much just like us. They organize and manufacture stuff and take on archetypes and even put on a choreographed musical number; a true micro gremlin version of humanity and all in about an hour. It's pretty great.

And so meta! At one point, all hell is breaking loose in the building which happens to house a television studio, and we see Leonard Maltin reviewing the VHS release of the original Gremlins movie. He isn't a fan so of course some gremlins sneak up and attack him for his critique. Shortly after, the film itself appears to disintegrate. Watching this in the digital age, I actually thought the film was disintegrating for a minute, the movie being several decades old and all, it's totally believable that the reel just gave out. But no! It's just the gremlins fucking with the filmstrip! In the movie! Suddenly we see a movie theater on screen and the staff is apologizing for the sabotage and enlist the help of Hulk Hogan to get the pesky gremlins in line. The Hulk just happens to be in the onscreen movie audience and he tears his shirt off (of course) and yells and threatens till the gremlins decide to let the rest of the film play so that we, the real audience, can enjoy the rest of the sequel. 

And let's not forget the adorable Gizmo, who really gets to shine in this movie. He watches Rambo in the beginning and winds up later imitating his new hero, popping up out of an air vent to save the day. With a flaming office-supply bow and arrow and a little red headband and black arm patch, he really embraces the image of his idol and new role as renegade hero. We also get to see him dance a little bit and that never gets old.

The whole thing is solid fun and I'd go see it again if it comes back to the big screen near me. I laughed the whole way through! Having been both bored and disappointed by the critically acclaimed Juliette Binoche french movie I saw the day before, I was especially grateful for the amusement. This movie really holds up, it's impressive.