Movie Review: Little Monsters (1989)

Synopsis: Already frustrated because his constantly-fighting parents decided to move to a new town, Brian finds himself blamed for a series of things he did not do. When his little brother claims the acts of sabotage were caused by a monster living under his bed, Brian doesn't believe him, accepts a challenge to switch rooms and is proven wrong. He befriends the monster,  Maurice, and is invited to visit the monster's world. What Brian doesn't know is his new friendship is putting him in danger of becoming a monster himself.

Who's in it? The movie stars Fred Savage, Howie Mandel, Daniel Stern, Margaret Whitton and Ben Savage.

Review: Things have been a bit hectic the past few weeks and, as a result of that, we haven't been having as many family movie nights as we usually do. Since my daughters had off from school yesterday and today, we were finally able to find some time to do that and, after looking at a few other options, I picked out this film.

I didn't remember too much about this movie and, even though it was a comedy, I had some concerns about it because I was concerned my youngest daughter would get scared by some of the monsters. As it turns out, that wasn't a problem. However, the movie just wasn't as good as I remember it.

I think the biggest problem with this movie is it seems to lack any real identity. At times, it was hard to tell if it was meant to be a family comedy, an action film or an after school special. I like Howie Mandel as a stand up comedian but his comedy just seemed forced in his Maurice role. I suspect the writers intended him to play the character in a fashion that was similar to Robin Williams' Genie from Aladdin. Instead, he seemed much more like Bob Saget from Full House.

The movie also moves at a surprisingly slow pace and, at times, seems bogged down by unimportant scenes. This is especially true toward the end, when they are taking on the big boss monsters and apparently have plenty of time to jump back into the human world to restock on supplies and recruit the help of the local bully (and I'm still not sure why he was suddenly friends with them) then have the monsters standing around and staring at them while they get set up.

I also was not a fan of the decision to have Brian's parents (Whitton and Stern) always at each other's throats. This movie was supposed to have been a fun film but their constant fighting made the movie much more depressing at times than it should have been.

In fact, I actually think this movie would have been considerably better had it just cast Whitton as a single mom (divorced or widowed). You would still have the parental authority figure but without all the extra and unnecessary anxiety, especially since Brian's dad was kind of an ass with no likable qualities.

Plus, if she were divorced/widowed, it would have created a legitimate reason for moving to a new house/new town in the first place. That was something that really bugged me about this film when I was watching it because the mom was unhappy about the house and the dad was unhappy about the commute, meaning their decision to move made absolutely no sense. And, while it probably wouldn't have bothered me as much any other time, it was just another of many things that I didn't like about this film.

Final Opinion: I'm normally not a fan of Hollywood re-makes. But, this is a movie that could use one. There's potential for a good family movie. The original just doesn't take full advantage of that and I would love to see someone re-do this film with stronger lead actors and a faster pace.

My Grade: D


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