268. Gremlins 2: The New Batch

★★★

“Gremlins 2: The New Batch” is mostly enjoyable if you don’t think of it as a movie, but rather a series of gooey, green vignettes that exist without being linked to an overall plot. The plot isn’t complicated, it’s really just Gizmo’s more evil cousins crew got tired of eating the residents of Kingston Falls and now want to take a bite out of the Big Apple. Everything that happens upon arrival in NYC, though, makes us almost depart early from this “Gremlins.”

Somewhere in a dusty sidestreet of Manhattan is an Asian relic shop, and somewhere among the overpriced artifacts is Gizmo, a creature ten times cuter than a puppy and 100 times more dangerous if he falls into the wrong hands. A mogul named Daniel Clamp (played by John Glover) wants to buy the shop so he can build a new real estate development. Oh, Clamp also owns a television network, and his office building also randomly has a genetic testing facility. The owner of the Asian shop dies, Clamp starts demolition on the store, Gizmo runs away and is caught by a scientist who works at Clamp’s building, the same building that Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) and Kate Beringer (Phoebe Cates) work at from the first movie. SMALL WORLD RIGHT?

Billy reunites with Gizmo, but Gizmo gets splashed by water, causing him to give birth to far nastier gremlins. If Gizmo is a 5-year-old learning to ride a bike, these greemlins are the 14-year-olds who’d steal his bike and light it on fire for the fun of it. Part of the film is shows Gizmo and Billy try to stop the monstrous vermin, the other depicts gremlins have fun with the various urban resources at their disposal. The only characters who are memorable are Clamp and Billy’s mother and father. “Gremlins 2” doesn’t bother with character development for Billy and Kate, just relying that we remember them from the first film.

But the movie is good, or at least more good than not. It’s totally self-aware, both in a typical media commentary way, like the way “The Simpsons” or “Family Guy” might poke fun at Fox. But “Gremlins 2” his also keenly aware of how stupid it is. In one scene, a group of security guards are chastising Billy for the rules of raising and keeping a mogwai, stuff like not feeding it after midnight. “But what if I get on a flight at 11 p.m. that’s traveling to the west coast, what will happen then?” Billy doesn’t have answers to these questions, but his non-answers prove something else entirely: that sometimes the mythos of a film is not important, that even the film is aware of how dumb its backstory is, and all that it is asking you to do is to sit back and enjoy.

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