Burnt out on all my music I’ve listened to all year, I’ve painted with some familiar movies as background noise. Here’s a log of twelve Christmas movies that I’ve vaguely paid attention to over the past few weeks:
Up until now, I’d never seen Gremlins. As a kid, I had no interest in seeing it, and I never bothered to catch up. Watching it thirty years later, I still find that Steven Spielberg children’s movies are dreadful. I was grossed out by ET, but the same tropes are all there: saccarine families, adults always being wrong, the special coming of age vibes, kid’s wisdom, blah blah blah. even the music, the sense of wonder, just deflates me. So here’s a look at some of the stuff that caught my eye about this movie:
This way to the Far East…
I always knew of Gremlins as the mischievous little creatures that tore apart planes in Bugs bunny cartoons. And, the back story by the town drunk references the origins of that World War II era myth, but the story behind gremlins in cartoons is far more interesting. Of course it centers around Disney and their eternal quest to own everlasting copyrights on ever bit of intellectual prioperty ever.
Going Back in Time
One of the first notes I wrote down about the movie was that it recycled Hill Valley from Back to the Future set. The problem is, unless there is time travel, nobody watching Gremlins would know this fact, as Back to the Future wasn’t released until 1985, a year after Gremlins premiered. There’s a ton of other productions that have been filmed on this square in the backlot of Universal studios. Check them out!
Worst Salesman Ever
This guy is not only the shittiest inventor on the planet, he’s the absolute worst salesman in the universe. His inventions – obviously humorous, jokes, blah blah, just clog up scenes and wasn’t a particularly interesting side plot. As a theme of gremlins/bad design, it’s fine, but still I was pretty unenthusiastic about it. Was there even a payoff? Did one of his zany, backfiring inventions kill a marauding band of mischievous gremlins? Not that I can recall, but by twenty minutes in, my attention was decidedly wavering. I religiously watched almost ever infomercial since my early childhood, so here’s a decidely unprofessional look at what makes him such a bad salesman:
- Hire a support staff. Inventors should invent, salesmen should sell. Maybe then his inventions will vaguely work.
- He’s a poor storyteller. He doesn’t have a quick point to his product’s tales and can’t adjust his rehearsed storylines to change tact to maintain the prospective buyer’s interest.
- Can’t tell the difference from shit and shinola. This is particularly important when you’re selling shit.
- While the art of the sale falls short of being a total con game, establishing some connection with the prospective buyer past listlessly listing off hypothetical situations, our little salesman fails to connect and become a voice of authority on his own inventions.
Cameo of the Movie
Continuing with the cartoon theme of Gremlins (with the cartoonist violence and producer Spielberg’s love of Warner Bros cartoons, the greatest director of cartoons made a completely pointless cameo encouraging the main character’s cartoon profession/side hustle. Still, it was good to see old Chuck make a surprise appearance.
Don’t rely on exotic presents to bring joy to loved ones for Christmas. Or, don’t try to squeeze down a chimney in a Santa suit, because not only wont you fit, but you’re pretty likely to slip and fall and break your neck and have your decomposing body be found five days later by your loved ones. So stay off the booze during Christmas.