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Bizarre Meet the Applegates is fresh and fun

MEET THE APPLEGATES

Directed by Michael Lehmann.

Starring Ed Begley Jr.

Now playing at the Loews Charles.

By EMIL DABORA

and SHAWN MASTRIAN

ONCE AGAIN, The Tech was confronted with a picture to which mortal reviewers could not do justice. Hence we, the submortals, were brought in to handle it. Today's topic on Emil and Shawn Searching for the Movies: Michael Lehman's new movie, Meet the Applegates.

Shawn: So, Emil, that was a cool flick, wasn't it?

Emil: Yo.

S: I'd really like to meet the dude who thought this one up. Gigantic bugs moving to the suburbs, trying to assimilate, and becoming caught up in every American vice. It was a fantastically funny idea, which I think was executed very well.

E: For those of you who saw Heathers and liked it, this movie, made by the same guy, is similar in its surreal melodramatic parody of the ordinary. Heathers presented high school; in Meet the Applegates, we see a sick and twisted section of middle America. The aim is to parody all that is average; therefore, the story takes place in Ohio with the typical nuclear family, Dick and Jane, two kids and a dog named Spot. But underneath the typical exterior, the family is really giant bugs trying to set off a nuclear holocaust that will leave only the insects alive. My only complaint is the thinly veiled ecological message in the film; it is not necessary, and it does not add anything.

S: It seems as if nowadays, filmmakers have to justify their films with some sort of moral statement. This film was humorous and bizarre enough to survive as a cult classic without needing justification.

E: What I liked best about this film is the way it begins as only slightly abnormal and gradually gets stranger and stranger. By the end, the movie is so bizarre that one wonders where the inspiration for the film came from.

S: I found the visual effects quite striking. In the beginning, before we got to see the Applegates in their insect form, we saw only two antennae chasing people around, as if we were one of the giant bugs. When we finally saw them, the effect was quite believable. My favorite moment was when we saw Spot's true form.

E: I thought the tentacles strapped to a camera, chasing screaming extras, served as a witty parody of the 1940s B movies. Thankfully, the director stopped doing this before the joke grew tired.

S: I'm glad that you mentioned that. The most refreshing thing about this movie was that jokes were never abused so as to get stale. Every time the movie had an opportunity to become dull, a new, unexpected plot twist occurred, which kept things moving. Insect puns were the only joke to persist throughout the film, but as they were subtly done, they still remained humorous. None of the plot twists were expected.

E: You hit on a very strong aspect of this film, the unexpected. Every twist and turn of this movie went beyond the realm of possible choices. This was not a movie where you could second-guess the plot. It is fresh and fun.

S: Dabney Coleman as Aunt Bea, the queen of the giant bugs, was also cool. No, he didn't shave his mustache off for this role. The scene where he tried to clear customs was quite funny.

E: Ed Begley Jr. was the shining star of the movie, and that was not just because he had an exoskeleton. He handled his role with grace, really emoting as a insect. Stockard Channing's portrayal of Jane, a housewife lost in the vice of instant credit, was a consistent asset to the film.

S: Everyone knows a Jane with credit problems.

E: See this film. It is good for you.