Do They Know It’s Christmas? — Day Nine
Christmas Connection: As any parent can relate to, Christmas is ruined by a horde of little monsters.
Ah, Gremlins. If all was right with the world, it would be you and not Jimmy Stewart and Peter Billingsley crowding our airwaves every year. We’d all have Gizmo tree-toppers and hang little Stripes from the boughs, and furiously try to finish all our food before midnight. Because even though it was released in the summer, and even though it’s mostly about Christmas being destroyed, no other film so expertly captures the American attitude towards the holiday, when people turn into tacky, greedy, all-consuming gremlins themselves.
You can boil down Gremlins to the classic Christmas faux pas: getting someone exactly the wrong gift. Only instead of not fitting right or being an ugly color, it jumps out of a Christmas tree and attacks you with a carving knife. The only advantage is that, judging by the end of the film, Mr. Wing has a much more lenient return policy than Target or Wal-Mart; he doesn’t even require a receipt. Although the burning ruin of half the town is a pretty good proof of purchase.
Gremlins was part of one of the greatest movie summers ever. On the weekend it opened in 1984, you also had the option of checking out Romancing the Stone, Sixteen Candles, Star Trek III, and two little art films called Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. And before the summer was over, we’d get The Karate Kid, The Last Starfighter, Revenge of the Nerds and Red Dawn, with Gremlins and Ghostbusters duking it out for the top of the box office all the way. Heady times indeed for a young geek.
Do They Know It’s Christmas?: Yes, a notion the gremlins do their best to disabuse them of. And of course, there’s the heart-warming story of Phoebe Cates’ dead father in his Santa suit in the chimney. If that doesn’t get you in the Christmas spirit, nothing will.