little_monsters

Review: LITTLE MONSTERS (1989)

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Best Bad Quote:
“WHO PUT PISS IN MY APPLE JUICE?!?!?!”
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Let’s face facts: today’s kids are soft. Why are they soft? Because their movies are flaccid and apathetic opuses to intellectual immaturity. Back in my day, we learned a thing or two from movies about being “tough.” Even the New Kids on the Block knew what was up! It’s a scary world out there, Brosephs, and if you don’t get to steppin’, you just might get squashed! (Word to your mother). This is why looking back at the inspirational, coming-of-age movies of my generation’s youth creates a bit of whip-lash. What happened to the inspirational “be a man/woman” awesomeness of the good old days of Dinosaurs and Pee Wee Herman? I propose that the failing of the current youth culture is that they don’t have a savvy, street-smart, wiser-than-his-years leader to help pave their way to adulthood. Nay, the 2010s have no Fred Savage.
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Because of Fred, and only because of Fred, Little Monsters stands the test of time. Like so many other “growing up stinks” gems from our tender, “wonder years,” the plot follows a disgruntled youth as he muddles his way through immaturity and adolescent rebellion to embrace adulthood– or at least a more conscientious approach to semi-adulthood. Scotty Schwartz had Richard Pryor in The Toy, Phoebe Cates had Drop Dead Fred, and in this case, Brian (Savage) has Maurice (Howie Mandell): a blue, annoying as f*ck monster dude who is clearly suffering from some sort of ADDemon. While Brian adjusts to living in a new home in a new city, simultaneously witnesses the decomposition of his parents’ marriage, he is made aware of and allowed to escape to another dimension of childhood fantasy: the world of monsters. It is a place where you can eat whatever you want, do whatever you want, and screw around with other peoples’ lives with no repercussions. Brian starts diving under his bed every night with the leathered Maurice into a portal which gives them access to every bed on the universe, and Brian uses the opportunity to spy on his crush (Amber Barretto), get a little revenge on the school bully (Devin Ratray aka Buzz from Home Alone), and dodge the burdens of his increasingly complicated underage life. (Parents just don’t understand).
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The trouble is, after Brian starts spending too much time on the other side, he begins morphing into a monster himself! See, the leader of Monsterville is this crazy creep named Boy (Frank Whaley) who has taken a liking to Brian’s precocious innovation. (Brian is the first kid in history to have ever outsmarted and captured the monster under his bed. Mucho Impressivo). While Boy and his henchman Snik (Rick Ducommun) try to strong arm Maurice into winning Brian over to their dark side, Bri’ starts to realize that being a selfish, unmitigated asshole may not be all its cracked up to be. Maybe it is indeed time to (gulp) grow up? He may not have a choice, as his little brother (played by his actual Topanga-free sibling, Ben Savage) is kidnapped by the infidels and held for ransom. The bargaining chip? His humanity. If he can’t rescue his brother before sun-up, he will become a monster trapped in monster land for all time. Monstrous.
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This delightful film is admittedly packed with errors. The Monster Universe is a series of shoddy staircases that are certain to give a trespasser hepatitis, and the rock bottom budget craftlessness of the otherworldly set is no way overshadowed by its occasional bursts of glitter. Additionally, the ugly creatures that live there just make you uncomfortable. It makes Freaks look like The Care Bears Movie. When Maurice has his big reveal, it is traumatizing. This guy is not a cushy, BFF monster for children; he is the psychological composite of every human being’s worst nightmare: Howie Mandell. [Bites fist]. This perfect but unfortunate casting decision will slowly eat out the inside of your eardrum. Why the heck is Brain friends with this ghoul? He’s a self-centered D-bag! The idea that Maurice may be roaming around you room while you sleep, screwing with your stuff and probably touching you, is more of an insomnia inducer than nighttime villain Freddy Krueger. (“9,10, never sleep AGAIN”)! Then, there is Daniel Stern as Brian’s father, who overplays the disciplinarian thing and comes off more like Dennis Rader than an emotionally conflicted papa. To finish things off, there is Frank Whaley’s performance as Boy: an effeminate, overgrown child with a secretly hideous face. He is actually amazing in the part for the few minutes he’s onscreen, purely because he actually is terrifying– an odd-looking pedophile just waiting to happen. This contrasts the more obviously gruesome intimidator, Ducommun’s hunchbacked Snik, but he really just makes you want to watch The Burbs, (because he is awesome in that movie).
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This film is actually very dark, but it’s admirable. It has respect for the intelligence of its tiny tot audience. True, it’s a bit of a Beetlejuice wannabe that never quite gets there– because everything is ridiculously but not skillfully overdone– and as an adult, I recognize that it is below sub-par on the artistry scale. Still, it packs a more powerful punch than the standard, emotionally superficial kids’ movies you come across these days. (What ever happened to flicks like Radio Flyer and Stand by Me)? It’s also more honest in its unapologetic inappropriateness. The kids in the film swear, Maurice performs gross pranks– like peeing in Buzz’s Apple Juice– and Brian is the average, sexually curious, pre-pubescent boy who gets his hormonal little rocks off by watching big-boobies on the boob tube– while eating peanut butter and onion sandwiches. Indeed, it’s a gross, “savage” world out there, which is why sometimes you gotta fight fire with fire. Un-utilized tagline: Savage vs. the Savagery. FS just makes all of life better. If kids had more tough love movies like this and their own modern day Fred– who represents them as normal kids, being kids, who are actually smarter than most adults rather than immature kids trying to act like adults and merely having unprotected sex with werewolves instead– the future probably wouldn’t look so bleak.
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In summation, watching this movie makes me happy for reasons I will never be able to understand. It helped made me the badass I am today. So, thank you, Fred. Thank you.
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Rating:
4 out of 5 Bottles of Piss in the Fridge
pee pee pee pee
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