Sunday, January 6, 2008

Meet the Applegates

Meet the Applegates; Fantasy/ Horror/ Comedy, USA, 1991, D: Michael Lehmann, S: Ed Begley Jr., Stockard Channing, Dabney Coleman, Robert Jayne, Camille Cooper, Glenn Shadix, Susan Barnes

In the Brazilian rains forest an undiscovered species of giant, intelligent mantis decides to save the insects from man's destruction of trees and blow up a nuclear power plant with humans as a revenge. Discovering a kitschy picture book, the perfectly mask up as a typical American family, call themselves the Applegates while the father, Richard, finds a job in a nuclear power plant. The neighbors are all envious of them, but they have problems fulfilling their plan: Richard gets fired, the daughter becomes pregnant, the son takes hostages and drugs...Their mantis aunt decides to blow up the power plant, but Richard has a change of heart and decides to spare the people.

Surreal satire "Meet the Applegates" is a forgotten film, but it enjoys cult status since some consider it a dreamy, brave realization of new dimensions of imagination and it's interaction with the normal people's lives. Director Michael Lehmann crafted a whole bunch of bizarre gags revolving around a family of intelligent mantis disguised as a human family: in one scene, everyone is talking about how children all over the city have been disappearing, upon which the father Richard shouts: "Where is my son!", upon which there's a cut showing his son is actually the perpetrator behind all of the kidnappings. In the nuclear power plant a giant mantis walks on top of the wall and sees everything upside down. A neighbor catches a 75 cm long cockroach and decides to stuff it. Still, the movie isn't particularly funny while due to the fast, chaotic and clumsy scenes not everything seems to be the way it should in a good film, a lot of things seem pointless while the specific direction of satire gets lost, especially in the happy ending, even though some of the naive gags are pretty fun. During the course of the film, there are at least three unsuitable scenes for the gentler viewers, among them including a intercourse scene with a guy and the insect daughter, but in the end it's still a matter of a reasonable and actually even friendly movie since the mantis family in the end doesn't kill anyone. Ed Begley Jr. is quite solid as Richard, while the mood seems to be strikingly similar to Tim Burton's opus.



Anonymous said...

I remember wearing out a VHS copy of this when I was younger. Ha!!

Marin Mandir said...

It's truly hard to find. I think in the last 15 years they aired this film only twice on TV.