Movie Reviews - Featured Films » Independent Film Guide - A

The Applegates Movie Review

family lehmann bugs jacoby

The Applegates is the story of a colony of misguided Amazonian arthropods who believe that their only chance for survival depends on the extermination of the human race. They send a family of four bugs to Ohio. Their mission: to impersonate a nuclear family of humans named Dick, Jane, Sally, and Johnny, and then blow up a nuclear power plant. Ed Begley Jr., Stockard Channing, Camile Cooper, and Bobby Jacoby star as the statistically average Applegate family, with Dabney Coleman as the leader of their colony, Aunt Bea. Director Michael (Heathers, The Truth about Cats and Dogs) Lehmann's script never does explain how the bugs transform themselves into humans. His satire focuses on how the bugs are twisted by American society. Dick has an affair with his secretary, Jane becomes a chargeaholic, Sally gets pregnant, and Johnny gets hooked on drugs. Whenever any humans threaten to expose them, the bugs-in-disguise turn them into hostages. What makes the movie work is the twisted characterizations of the family. Ed Begley Jr. is just right as Dick. He may know the definition of “normal,” but he has no idea how he's supposed to act under the circumstances. Future Oscar nominee Stockard Channing, one of America's most underappreciated actresses, is a delight as Jane, her growing mania for possessions dissolving her carefully maintained facade. The kids are good, too. Cami Cooper's role requires her to shift from innocence to evil and back again in the blink of eye and she conveys both with enormous skill. As her little brother, Bobby Jacoby is heartbreakingly innocent before some drug-dealing twins get their clutches on him. Lehmann's satire gets really broad as the family members start lying to each other right and left; The Applegates may not appeal to you if you demand good taste from a movie. Its humor can be brutal, but on some weird level, I prefer Lehmann's good-natured, what-the-hell attack on Middle America here to Tim Burton's mean-spirited vision of suburbia in Edward Scissorhands. AKA: Meet the Applegates.

1989 (R) 90m/C Ed Begley Jr., Stockard Channing, Dabney Coleman, Camille (Cami) Cooper, Bobby Jacoby, Glenn Shadix, Susan Barnes, Adam Biesk, Savannah Smith Boucher; D: Michael Lehmann; W: Michael Lehmann, Redbeard Simmons. VHS, LV, Closed Caption

Art for Teachers of Children Movie Review [next] [back] The Apostle Movie Review

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or