I’d heard that Gremlins 2: The New Batch was a masterpiece satirizing sequels and consumerism. I’d heard Joe Dante didn’t want to make the sequel and only singed on to lambast the notion that Gremlins needed a sequel at all. I’d heard that it break the fourth wall when Hulk Hogan stands up in a theater and speaks directly to the audience in a rebellious ‘fuck you’ to film convention. But now I’ve seen it and I don’t see what all the fuss was about.
This time the movie is set in a mall skyscraper, the temple of consumerism. Billy (Zach Galligan and the protagonist from Gremlins) is working in the mall, learning the ropes of corporate work-life balance. His girlfriend (they might’ve been engaged, I don’t remember) Kate (Phoebe Cates), worries that Billy’s eagerness success is driving them apart. What a perfect time for Gizmo to return! The lovable mogwai (the fuzzy Furby versions of the titular gremlins) wastes no time getting wet which triggers his disgusting replication process and creates many more troublemaking gremlins who eventually destroy the mall. That’s pretty much it. The rest of the film is cartoonish violence and slapstick bits and 2 hours of Salacious Crumb laughter.
I’m sure there’s a good reason some people laude Gremlins 2: The New Batch for it’s satirical significance but I found it only as powerful as any random issue of Mad Magazine. Any power behind the satire is restrained by their cartoonish presentations. Absurdity in satire should complement the message, underline the point. You can’t just put Yoda in a dress and hold your hand out expecting a Pulitzer.
I found little joy in Gremlins 2: The New Batch and I expect my first viewing will be my last. It’s not a bad movie so much as I don’t know what to do with a movie like Gremlins 2: The New Batch. I didn’t find it clever, I didn’t find it funny or scary. What else am I supposed to get out of a monster comedy? I’m disappointed because I wanted to love Gremlins 2: The New Batch. I wanted to be part of the group that gets it, that loves it, but that didn’t happen.