The Scoop: 1989 PG, directed by Richard Greenberg and starring Fred Savage, Howie Mandel, and Daniel Stern
Tagline: Some friends can be REAL MONSTERS. And some monsters can be REAL FRIENDS.
Summary Capsule: Little boy befriends under-the-bed monster, dies horribly. What would you expect?
Justin’s Rating: I hope you die in a fire.
Justin’s Review: Hey kids! If you liked Monsters Inc., then… well, you should probably just stick with that one. Don’t mistake Little Monsters for a touchy-feely lost 80’s classic that will teach you what it means to scare in the dearest sense of the word. There are striking similarities between the films – enough to make me look at Pixar a little funny – but while Little Monsters trips over its feet and falls, Monsters Inc. made it across the finish line to the sweet taste of PoolMan’s tears. Yeah, yeah, she said “kitty” and it was touching. Stop going through the office Kleenex, bub.
What’s weird about Little Monsters is that I’m not quite sure it was meant for young eyes – but if not them, then who? It begins with some fairly predictable boy-makes-buddies-with-odd-creature fare that fed many stomachs of Hollywood execs in the 80’s, but about midway through it veers into oddly mature content. Such a monster peeing into a jar of “apple juice”, and then a kid drinks it… or a kid gets depantsed and a young girl monster goes “nice ass!” in the creepiest voice imaginable… or a kid’s parents suddenly go through pre-divorce separations. Like Beetlejuice, this movie does a great job with bizarre and often gruesome monster getups, but I can see kids under a certain age finding it far more freaky than funny.
Mr. Wonder Years – Fred Savage himself – plays Brian, a member of the oppressed order of prepubescent whiners. You know the type: “Oh, my parents made me move to this town!” “Oh, I don’t have any friends!” “Oh, my little brother is a brat!” “Oh, my life is constantly narrated by Daniel Stern!” To make matters worse, a hyperactive monster named Maurice (Howie Mandel) pops out from under his bed and starts to make a mess that gets Brian into a heap of angry dad trouble.
However, following my sage advice of “if anything pops out of your closet or under your bed late at night, you must trust and follow it unquestioningly”, Brian abandons common sense to join Maurice in the monster underworld. Monster underworld is a lot of sparkly floors and stacked pallets, but Brian considers this the bee’s knees, a kid paradise like Shredder’s fantasy gang room in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There, Brian is captured and slowly digested alive by a Sarlacc over the course of the next thousand years.
Or so I wish.
Like Monsters Inc., the primary goal of the monster kingdom is to scare kids – although no greater purpose than mischief is given. In another similarity, the big bad threat of the film comes within the monster world, and it’s up to Brian to unleash the Savage beast within. I bet Fred uses that line on all his girlfriends.
Maurice is somewhat likable, but the manic pseudo-Beetlejuice vibe wasn’t even all that funny when Michael Keaton did it. Unless this genre – which I’d stretch to include Drop Dead Fred as well – is what keeps the crazy voices to a bare minimum in your head, there’s not much reason to see this one.
- Daniel Stern, who plays Glen Stevenson the father of Fred Savage’s Brian Stevenson, was the man responsible for the voice over narration on “The Wonder Years” in which Fred Savage starred.
- Brian and Eric are brothers, played by Fred and Ben Savage, who are also brothers.
- Ah wacky inventions… an 80’s staple
- Late night cable: sleazy fat guys drooling over bikini-clad bimbos
- If your kids hear you having sex, then they automatically assume “monster under my bed!”
- Peanut butter and onion sandwiches? I’ll have to try that.
- The moving clothes are nifty
- Monster piss instead of apple juice… okay, this film just got a little too gross
- “Over the shoulder boulder holder” – have not heard that one in a while
- If your parents are thinking about divorce, run away to California – they’ll get back together out of worry for you!
Maurice: [after peeing in Ronny’s apple juice] Ronny’s gonna be pissed!
Monster: Trick or treat, smell my feet!
Maurice: Ooh, let me get it. [picks Brian’s nose] Hmm yum, you know I thought it would be good but it’s snot. Ha Ha!
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