A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Gremlins has many scary scenes, including a mom chopping up a Gremlin with a kitchen knife, a Gremlin-in-blender, and indelible Gremlin-in-microwave scenes. Parents and movie buffs alike may be interested to know that, along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Gremlins prompted the creation of the PG-13 rating. Also, a heads' up: Even though this movie isn't intended for kids young enough to really still want to believe in Santa, just in case: Phoebe Cates' character gives a memorable speech about how she found out that St. Nick wasn't real. There is also a lot of salty language; much more profanity than you may remember.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In GREMLINS, Billy's dotty dad discovers a Mogwai (mog-why) and buys it as a Christmas present for him. Billy loves his sweet furry pet Gizmo, but disregards the basic rules of owning a Mogwai. Gizmo spawns nasty offspring, and the new creatures immediately go wild, dispatching a science teacher and tearing up the house. Billy and his mom are forced to destroy the little suckers. The mayhem looks under control until Spike, the malicious Gremlin leader, hops into the school swimming pool and multiplies exponentially. Soon the whole town is under attack. In the end, Billy and his girlfriend Kate (Phoebe Cates) blow up the town theater with the Gremlins inside. Just when the plot seems predictably laid out, the movie transforms into something else -- something much worse. The monsters mutate, and you just don't see the nastiness coming.
Is it any good?
This hit from the 1984 has lost none of its ability to frighten and entertain. Both a dark comedy and a cultural commentary, Gremlins adds up to much more than a monster flick. Although they grow meaner, the Gremlins possess a sick sense of humor that establishes the twisted comic tone. Visually, the movie is also filled with fun touches, like a "Have a Safe and Happy Holiday" sign shown while a science teacher is rather indelicately butchered.
The special effects are also convincing if not original: Gizmo looks a bit like an Ewok from Star Wars, and the Gremlin pods seem lifted directly from Alien. Gremlins even attempts a message by exploring the evils of mid-'80s corporate culture: human acquisitiveness and the drive to conquer and control nature. In the end, the old Chinese man who sold Billy's dad the Mogwai returns to sum it up: "You do with Mogwai what your society has done with all of nature's gifts. You are not ready."
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: June 8, 1984
- On DVD or streaming: September 30, 1997
- Cast: Hoyt Axton, Phoebe Cates, Zach Galligan
- Director: Joe Dante
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 106 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: scary situations and mild violence
- Last updated: January 30, 2020
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