Movie review by
Randy White, Common Sense Media
Gremlins Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Comic horror classic is still scary; some profanity.
  • PG
  • 1984
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 55 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 144 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Overall message warning against excess and the drive to conquer and control nature.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Billy and Kate show bravery and resourcefulness, but a lot of mixed messages and microaggressions. 


Gremlins gruesomely kill people -- and vice versa.


Moderate bathroom and religiously themed expletives.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Gremlins smoke, drink like fish, and gamble with abandon.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9-year-old Written byJanna October 11, 2009

It's OK, if your kids don't believe in Santa!

It's been awhile since I have seen this movie. My 9 year old does not scare easily and I new she would love the cute little Gremlin that never changed. H... Continue reading
Adult Written bydanny800 April 21, 2019

Gremlins is not for little kids

i think gremlins is a classic movie but its not for little kids because its very vilonte a guy gets pulled underneath a desk and killed by a gremlin and the mai... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 29, 2017

Tells that Santa is not real!

I found out that Santa was not real when I was 9. The gremlins die in a rather violent way but mature 9 year olds can handle this only if they know about Santa
Teen, 13 years old Written byRed Robin March 18, 2020

Extremely violent.

Despite the PG rating, Gremlins is a good Halloween classic for older kids. Some extremely violent scenes, especially near the end. Gremlins are hit with knives... Continue reading

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 ...

  • Families can talk about Gremlins' message. What do you think the point was? Do most horror movies have messages? What are some others you can think of?

  • Do you think this movie is intended to appeal to kids? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love monsters

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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