The Applegates (1990)

“The Applegates” is what happens when you put “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” in a blender with “Killer Klowns from Outer Space.” That’s the best way to describe this demented slice of early ’90s lunacy: Ed Begley Jr. and Stockard Channing star as the parents in a middle-American household who are also giant ants forced to disguise themselves as humans along with their two children in order to escape the forestation of their natural environment. Sometimes, it plays like a slightly warped version of “Leave It to Beaver,” sending up Americana stereotypes while also tying its narrative directly to those conventions, and then once in a while, the movie becomes full-on horror, complete with rape, murder, interspecies birth, monster attack scenes, etc. There’s some social commentary thrown in about consumerism, alcoholism, suburban ennui and workplace sexual harassment, not to mention a positive environmental message that serves as thematic undercurrent, and if that makes it sound overstuffed, then you’re right. But there’s no denying that it’s genuinely fascinating (if occasionally off-putting) because of its hodgepodge, gas-leak plot, and it just has to be seen to be believed.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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