Release Date: January 25, 1991
Starring: Ed Begley Jr., Stockard
Channing, Bobby Jacoby, Cami
Cooper, & Dabney Coleman
Rating: PG-13 probably
Runtime: Approximately 87 minutes
Distributor: Triton Pictures
Director: Michael Lehman
Producer: Denise Di Novi
Writer: Richard Ledbeard Simmons &
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Wanting to avenge themselves against humanity for encroaching on their rain forest, an undiscovered species of unusually large and intelligent South American insects come to Ohio to destroy mankind. Since insects can survive a nuclear fall-out, the plan is to disguise themselves as a model family, the Applegates, and move into a typical American town near an atomic plant, where the father takes a job in the hopes of sabotaging the facility to cause an explosion.
Because their knowledge of suburban life is derived solely from "Dick and Jane" books used to teach English to the natives, the Applegates start off as a perfect '50s family, hitting every statistical norm. However, exposed to the reality of family life, they soon fall prey to teen pregnancy, drugs, infidelity, and debt.
When daughter Sally's sexual promiscuity and of brother John's smoking pot overwhelms their humanity, the human shells give way and giant bugs emerge. Both spin cocoons around their victims, which they stash away in the basement. The parents fare no better. Dick gives in to adultery at the power plant and Jane, wallowing in decadent consumerism with her credit gone, robs a convenience store.
Meanwhile, their transvestite Aunt Bea, disgusted by the Applegates' lack of progress, arrives with some drones and begins tunneling to the plant's nuclear core in order to blow it up and complete the mission. The Applegates, sensing that humans and insects can live together in harmony, free their cocooned victims and make a plea to the community for help before it is too late.
Although THE APPLEGATES hints at New Ageism, it must be taken with a grain of salt because, after all, "it isn't meant to be taken seriously," says Bobby Jacoby, who plays the Applegates' insect son. Toward this end, there is plenty of snappy dialogue, like "That's none of your beeswax," or "You miserable stinkbug!" Of course, Dick's job at the power plant is "debugging" computers.
The visual gags are even funnier, such as watching the Applegates' faces light up when Jane announces that for dessert they're having a plate of rubbish from the dumpster. As for the rest of the film, the dumpster is where it belongs. The local minister is portrayed in an unflattering light, and the Christian doctrine of forgiveness is mocked.
Furthermore, Jane turns to the bottle to solve her problems and Dick gives in to lust and adultery. If the film's message is that American society can take anyone and corrupt him, then it succeeds, for the Applegates engage in just about every vice that can be named: sexual immorality and fornication, shoplifting and weaponry assault, kidnapping, substance abuse, and obscene and profane language. This is one family no one needs to meet.
THE APPLEGATES has snappy dialogue and funny visual gags. However, the local minister and the Christian doctrine of forgiveness are mocked, and the Applegates engage in just about every vice that can be named: sexual immorality and fornication, shoplifting and weaponry assault, kidnapping, substance abuse, and obscene and profane language. This is one family no one needs to meet.