GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH - 1990
Rated: USA: PG
A group of men in shades and suits deliver a TV set in Chinatown. It's delivered to our favorite wizened, crotchety, but mysteriously wise Grandpa from the first GREMLINS (Keye Luke*). A boyish, slightly daft preppie comes on TV. This is Mr. Daniel Clamp (John Glover: 52 PICK-UP, SCROOGED, ROBOCOP 2), a nicer, more user friendly Donald Trump. He'd rather hire than fire someone. In fact, wth the massive growth of his corporation, he's just about ready to hire the entire planet. His company logo is a clamp shaped "C" squeezing the earth. This is what Grandpa sees, and he's not impressed with Clamp's enthusiasm for tearing down Chinatown and completely rebuilding it in his own image.
"The New Chinatown! Where business gets "Oriented"!"
- Daniel Clamp
As in the first GREMLINS, Grandpa isn't selling. In fact, he's the only business still holding out, as Clamp has bought out everyone else. The suits leave disappointed, but leave the TV as a gift.
Grandpa has a rough cough though. He's a much weaker man than we saw six years ago.
Grandpa dies, Clamp gets his building, and the destruction begins. Nobody even bothered to go through all of Grandpa's stuff to see if anything there had any worth. Clamp has bigger fish to fry. So nobody looked for a particular Mogwai.
Gizmo escapes the wrecking ball and takes a sad little stroll down an alley (in broad daylight, yes), whereupon he's quickly snatched off the street.
Meanwhile, Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) and Kate Beringer (Phoebe Cates) are engaged and living in New York City. Both are low level employees of Daniel Clamp, though Daniel has so many employees that he can't possibly know about either of them.
In fact, in the massive Clamp building, there are a number of businesses that Daniel Clamp is unaware of even having in his own building. One of these is a gene splicing company and laboratory, run by Doctor Catheter (a scene stealing role by Christopher Lee: HORROR HOTEL, THE WICKERMAN, END OF THE WORLD, SLEEPY HOLLOW, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, CORPSE BRIDE). Lab researchers Martin and Lewis (real life identical twins, Don and Dan Stanton: TERMINATOR 2) show Dr. Catheter their new discovery and Gizmo does a little dance.
Naturally, if Gizmo is out of the protection of Grandpa, then it's only a matter of time before the three rules are broken -
1. Don't expose it to bright light.
2. Don't get it wet.
3. Don't feed it after midnight.
And when it comes to Mogwais, those rules really AREN'T made to be broken.
Once Gizmo is in the Clamp building, Merry Mishaps will occur.
When I saw this in the theater, I was immediately put off by the Chuck Jones cartoon beginning between Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. It was a repeat of the
long standing rivalry, born out of Daffy's jealousy, of Bugs. It had also been run to death on Saturday morning TV. But what that cartoon opening was there for, was to let everyone know that GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH, would also be a cartoon, only with live actors: A thing that only Jim Abrams and the Zucker Brothers have made work.
Joe Dante threw everything out that worked from the original GREMLINS except for the fact that the new Gremlins would be even whackier. Working off a script by Charles S. Haas (MARTIANS GO HOME, MATINEE), GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH, collapses into a mire of self-referential and topical humor that was already aged by the time the movie came out. GREMLINS 2 cost more than 4 times the original and while Rick Baker's (PLANET OF THE APES , MEN IN BLACK II, THE RING, HELLBOY, THE RING TWO, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND) creature effects were far superior (and stand up even today over cgi), the movie itself was intended to be one long fanboy joke. And that's okay, if you're making a low budget movie. But this was a big budget movie. The first 45 minutes of the movie aren't a drag because the only reason I'm there is to see Gremlins wreak havoc: the first 45 or so minutes are a drag because they aren't interesting, compelling, and the jokes all fall flat. They'd be bad for a sitcom, let alone a theatrical movie. There's just no story here. And with no story in the beginning, all that's left in the end is sight gags.
So in the last half, Dante
puts on his SciFi geek hat and goes full bore for fun. The various things the Gremlins get into in the gene splicing lab are inventive and hilarious, especially the second scene stealing role of the voice of Tony Randall (7 FACES OF DR. LAO) as Brain Gremlin. This had to be the precursor to Stewie on Family Guy.
This movie is too tiresome and empty to give it as good a rating as GREMLINS, but the last half is too much fun to give it a one or two. I enjoyed it enough to buy it, but I don't watch it near as much as I watch the original. I give this a three, but I can understand if you'd think less of it.
This review copyright 2008 E.C.McMullen Jr.
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