movie film review | chris tookey

Gremlins II: The New Batch / Gremlins 2

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  Gremlins II: The New Batch  / Gremlins 2 Review
Tookey's Rating
8 /10
Average Rating
6.83 /10
Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, John Glover
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Directed by: Joe Dante
Written by: Charlie Haas

Released: 1990
Origin: US
Length: 107


Nasty little varmints trash a New York skyscraper.

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Even more entertaining than the original. Where the first film was over-laborious in building up an image of small-town America for its anti-heroes to destroy, this picture quickly and gleefully establishes the environment which is to become Joe Dante's inferno: a horrible New York office building incorporating an offensive conglomeration of cable TV stations, and - more improbably - a grisly genetic laboratory under the direction of the sinister Dr Catheter (who else but Christopher Lee?).
The owner of this Tower of Babble is Daniel Cramp (John Glover), a nightmarish amalgamation of Donald Trump and Ted Turner. It is Cramp who happily claims responsibility for transmitting a new, improved version of Casablanca: "in colour, and with a happier ending". It is he too, presumably, who is responsible for soothing public address announcements throughout the building which end in "Have a powerful day!" and talking lavatory doors which say "Hey, pal, I sure hope you washed those hands!" You can't wait for the gremlins to strike.
The satire on modern New York life is spot-on. There's the casual rudeness and relentless vulgarity; the female workaholic who even attempts seduction in business jargon; the endless quest for new restaurants with an ethnic theme, culminating here in an only slightly far-fetched Canadian restaurant "where they clean the fish right at your table", and where for dessert they serve a gigantic chocolate moose.
The heroes (Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates) are no more interesting than they were in the first movie, but the real stars are the gremlins themselves: now too familiar to be scary, perhaps, but funnier and more varied than before. My favourite is the one which drinks brain hormone, undergoes a Jekyll and Hyde transformation, and turns into a loathsomely pretentious cross between William Buckley and Loyd Grossman.
There are cinematic sideswipes galore at targets from Busby Berkeley to Batman. The speed, intricacy and sheer number of the sight-gags is reminiscent of the best silent comedies. It's much too knowing and grown-up for the teenage market at which the first Gremlins was aimed, but I laughed and laughed. It received mixed reviews.

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