Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Genre Character of the week: Gizmo

Over the month of December this year, my family has been enjoying some of our fondest Christmas movies, first up was Elf, then came Love Actually, and last week was one of my personal favourites, Joe Dante’s 1984 film Gremlins. For those of you who have never seen the film – stop reading now, and go check it out (maybe make sure your kids are old enough to see it though, as Gremlins (along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) was the reason for the creation of the PG-13 rating in the United States, although it isn’t as violent as some films, certain sequences are pretty darn terrifying).

Are you back? Great – let’s talk about this week’s genre character, that adorable little Mogwai, Gizmo.

In the film, the main character, Billy is given Gizmo as a pet by his father for Christmas. Gizmo may be one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen on screen – seriously, his facial expressions, movements and voice (performed by Howie Mandel) work together to make him incredibly engaging and sympathetic to the viewer. He’s spunky, heroic and genuinely loves his friend Billy.

In many ways the film is sort of a reverse of the standard “Boy and His Dog” story, as it works a little better as a “Pet and his Boy” story – Billy watches and reacts to a lot of what is happening, but Gizmo is one who (mild thirty-year-old spoiler) saves the day and spends the whole film concerned about what evils may come about due to the introduction of the Mogwai called Stripe.

The film is really fun, but kids should probably be out of elementary before they watch it as the scenes do tend to be a little more intense than expected. Otherwise, this is a pretty great Alternative Christmas film.

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