Dir. Joe Dante (1984); 106 min
FRIDAY, November 28th at 7 & 9:30pm
SATURDAY, November 29th at 7 & 9:30pm
SUNDAY, November 30th at 3pm
Ostensibly a children’s film, Gremlins was such a horrific, violent experience that the MPAA didn’t know how to classify it, causing a reevaluation of the system that led to a new PG-13 rating between the classic PG and R. This toeing the line between childlike and adult accurately encompasses Joe Dante’s entire career. In between scenes of the titular Gremlins’ Looney Tunes-esque mayhem Dante sandwiches incisive jabs at Reagan-era value systems. Everything from small town living to nostalgia for the 1950s to Christmas to the nuclear family is targeted by Dante’s ruthless satire of contemporary Americana. Check out the way Dante films the small town setting like an irony-tinged combination of It’s a Wonderful Life and a Norman Rockwell painting. Or the hokey, self-aware dialogue between townspeople. Or Phoebe Cates’ infamous Christmas speech, twisting a monologue that should be tragic into one of the most hilarious moments of 1980s cinema. Gremlins remains nothing short of a comic masterpiece.