Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) / Horror-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for violence, gore and language
Running Time: 106 min.
Cast: Zach Galligan, John Glover, Phoebe Cates, Christopher Lee, Robert Prosky, Robert Picardo, Haviland Morris, Dick Miller, Jackie Morris, Gedde Watanabe, Howie Mandel (voice), Tony Randall (voice), Julia Sweeney, Hulk Hogan, Leonard Maltin, Dick Butkus, Bubba Smith, John Astin, Henry Gibson
Director: Joe Dante
Screenplay: Charles S. Haas
Review published January 16, 2007
If the first Gremlins was striving for populist thrills, its sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, is one for the film and pop culture buffs. Chock full of in-jokes and homage, this sequel would be little more than a glorified mess if not for the fact that there is a great deal of wit and funny bits behind all of the unrelenting mayhem. It's a demented, frenzied, and unfocused effort on the part of director Joe Dante (The 'burbs, Small Soldiers), but clearly inspired, as we can only watch and admire while the creators of this over-ambitious comedy ditch trying to please the studio's target audience in order to entertain themselves. Luckily, this makes it uniquely fun as well, for those on the same manic wavelength.
Gremlins 2 picks up a few years after the events depicted in the original, with Billy (Galligan, Gabriela) and Kate (Cates, Bright Lights Big City) living in NYC, where they both are employed by the billionaire developer, Daniel Clamp (Glover, Payback). Gizmo's also still alive, and still under the care of the curio shop owner, but is taken away for genetic experiments done in the high-rise building owned by Clamp. Inevitably, Gizmo comes in contact with some dreaded moisture, hatching several new Mogwai who begin to raise mischief throughout the building. It doesn't take long before these Mogwai turn into the fearsome Gremlins, who begin to multiply at alarming rates, taking over the entire edifice.
With the success of Gremlins, a sequel was a given, although Joe Dante had been reluctant to revisit these characters unless he could do things his way. Greenlighted by the studio to capitalize on the franchise while it was still hot, Dante and screenwriter Charles S. Haas (Matinee) made the film they want to see, and being the creature-feature lovers and film fanatics that they are, this meant a movie for people who saw things the same. Gremlins 2, if anything, is a film that would rather make fun of itself, never taking itself or its predecessor seriously, merely using the premise as an excuse to spoof anything and everything it can and still remain somewhat cohesive.
This is a high concept movie, and not generally treated with the same degree of affection for those who enjoyed the first entry. However, there is a fervent following for this sequel, and it has its own fans who champion it as the superior film, for its smart satire and tongue-in-cheek sassiness. With an uninteresting plot and wafer-thin characters, there didn't seem like anywhere the creators could go with the series, so credit Dante and Haas for at least doing something more than just a rehash cash-in. Gremlins 2 may not be in the video library of everyone who possess Gremlins, but it's one of the rare sequels that may be owned by many who don't own the first film.
©2004 Vince Leo