Director: Joe Dante
Cast: John Goodman, Cathy Moriarty, Simon Fenton, Omri Katz
Have I Seen it Before: Many long years ago, it was one of those movies that I absolutely wanted to go to see, and indulgent parents allowed for it, as Goodman was a pleasing weekly presence on TV at the time… and… um, that’s still true, as it turns out.
Did I Like It: Absolutely. It’s a perfect tragedy that both Charlie Haas doesn’t get to write major motion pictures anymore, and that Joe Dante isn’t directing like he was in the 80s and 90s.
While not as manic as the other film that assembled this director/producer/screenwriting team—Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)—it is still a sweet movie that plays to my own tastes beautifully. Loving movies, even/especially the bad ones, and the places where they are played, all while the world is coming apart at the seams.
It’s a special thing when a filmmaker can go to work, and as the viewer I can get the sense that we’d get along pretty well, with are tastes being so perfectly aligned.
There’s one scene that’s about as good as anything else gets. Goodman describing the magic of a theater. And yet, the film never forgets to have a fun time. Both films-within-films are delightful running gags, but The Shook-Up Shopping Cart—the less prominent of the two side-productions is a blissfully absurdist gag amid an otherwise mainstream film.
One wonders if they could have leaned into that more, as the film was ultimately doomed to be a drag on poor Universal’s resources. Naturally, no one knew that at the time, and there really isn’t any reason that the film shouldn’t have been one of the big moneymakers of the year.