By Ralph Novak
June 25, 1990 12:00 PM


John Glover, Haviland Morris

Let’s get right to it, which is what director Joe Dante does: This movie has no surprises, just a bigger dose of the bizarre, sadistic, ugly little creatures that surfaced in the original.

The gremlins and Gizmo the Mogwai are indeed mechanically adept entities. (Co-producer Rick Baker, a longtime effects expert, gets credit for “gremlin and Mogwai effects” this time.) It’s another question whether it’s all that amusing to watch scene after scene of gremlins throwing food, torturing Gizmo, popping up out of salad bars and singing “New York, New York” with an English accent—in a dragged out, gruelingly pointless bit.

Written by Charlie Haas, whose credits already include the execrable Martians Go Home, this film generates real fun only on the periphery. There, Glover (TV’s Rage of Angels), as a Ted Turner-Donald Trump sort of airhead mogul, preens over his new office building, where things are automated so much that a recorded voice announces, “Welcome to the men’s room.” A background noise voice-over promises a TV showing of “a new, colorized version of Casablanca, with a happier ending.”

Morris (A Shock to the System) runs up her supporting role as an ambitious publicity woman to good effect, and Christopher Lee, as a mad scientist named Doctor Catheter, might have been funny if given more of a chance.

The original Gremlins’s stars are trashed. Zach Galligan, colorless at best, seems part of the scenery, and Phoebe Cates, looking stumpy and dressing frumpy, pales beside Morris.

Except for the mindless use of Rhapsody in Blue during one gremlin rampage—dragging Gershwin into junk like this is shameful—nothing too offensive happens. It’s grasping at small favors, but let’s be grateful for that boon of innocuousness. (PG-13)