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 2: The New Batch is the 1990 sequel to the hit '80s movie. It's more entertaining than one might expect, but much of that entertainment comes from cartoonish violence in the form of gremlins spending the last hour of this 90-minute movie running amok in a Manhattan high rise similar to Trump Tower. While not as gory as other horror movies, some of the gremlin deaths -- for instance, a gremlin getting killed via a paper shredder -- might be a bit much for younger viewers. Some of the satire of 1980s-style greed will also go over younger viewers' heads, as well as references to Ted Turner's attempts at colorizing classic black and white films in the late 1980s. There's mild profanity and a few mild sexual references. A troubling aspect worth mentioning is the stereotypical portrayal of an Asian character who does nothing but speak in broken English while taking nonstop photographs with his camera.
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What's the story?
Gizmo is removed from his Chinatown curio shop home after Mr. Wing dies and the shop is slated for demolition by billionaire developer and broadcaster Daniel Clump. He ends up caged in Clump Tower, where "mad" scientists prepare to conduct research on him. But when Gizmo's old friend Billy (Zach Galligan), who has moved to the Big Apple and is, coincidentally enough, employed in Clump Tower, realizes that Gizmo is in the building, he rescues him from the scientists. While forced into a business dinner, Billy sends his doting wife Kate (Phoebe Cates) to rescue Gizmo, but by the time she gets there, it's too late. Gizmo has gotten wet, thus unleashing an army of evil gremlins, who run amok in the skyscraper and threaten to take over all of New York City.
Is it any good?
GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH is surprisingly fun. While the first 30 minutes throws together just enough of a storyline to lead to the remaining hour of the movie (which is basically little more than sequence after sequence after sequence of gremlins getting into trouble in a Manhattan high-rise), this sequel mines a steady stream of laughs out of cartoonish violence and references to dozens of other movies.
It's a thin premise, but as the filmmakers knew, audiences don't watch sequels to Gremlins for deep character interaction -- they watch Gremlins sequels to watch gremlins going crazy destroying things. While there's lots of slapstick comedy, the movie also contains more sophisticated pop culture references and satire at the expense of moguls like Donald Trump and Ted Turner. It's a ludicrous, over-the-top kind of movie, and with the right expectations, it's the kind of movie that's enjoyable for its own sake.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about characters based on racial stereotypes. Why is it wrong to present characters in stereotypes based on their race, ethnicity, or gender?
How does this movie play with the conventions and "rules" of storytelling in movies?
How is the violence in the movie similar to and different from other horror movies?
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