.

Meet the Applegates

Ed Begley Jr., Stockard Channing, Dabney Coleman

Directed by Michael Lehmann
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
February 28, 1991

Even top directors have off days. Take David Lynch (Dune), Francis Coppola (One From the Heart) and Martin Scorsese (New York, New York). Their movie mishaps are dreadful but not dull because you can feel a vigorous imagination at work. Director-writer Michael Lehmann is not in their league. He's only made one film, the black comedy Heathers (1989), but that caustic lampoon of teen suicide marked him as a comer. Lehmann really messes up with the overscaled and underwritten Applegates. By straining for significance, he's bled the fun out of a potentially inspired spoof. But he's in there pushing, while the hacks are content to coast.

Ed Begley Jr. and Stockard Channing are Dick and Jane Applegate, an aggressively average couple who have moved to suburban Ohio with a daughter, Sally (Cami Cooper), a son, Johnny (Bobby Jacoby), and a dog, Spot. There's the usual problems: Dick screws his secretary, Jane shops to the point of bankruptcy, Sally gets pregnant, Johnny's into drugs, and Spot terminates the neighbor's dog. Oh, and yes, the Applegates aren't people, they're cockroaches. Furious that polluters are trashing their home in the Brazilian rain forest, they have taken human form and come to America so that Dick can use his job in a power plant to nuke humanity to hell.

It's a clever premise, and Lehmann has an ideal cast. Begley is expert at showing the perverse side of the average Joe. And the vibrant Channing, currently wowing Broadway in the best play of several seasons – John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation – crackles with wit and spirit. When Lehmann sticks to exploding the poses of normality, Applegates is outrageously on target. It's the chintzy effects and repetitive jokes that allow action to overtake character. The picture sinks but Lehmann doesn't – he has enough talent percolating just below the surface of this film to make us eager for his next.

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Stillness Is the Move”

    Dirty Projectors | 2009

    A Wim Wenders film and a rapper inspired the Dirty Projectors duo David Longstreth and Amber Coffmanto write "sort of a love song." "We rented the movie Wings of Desire from Dave's brother's recommendation, and he had me go through it and just write down some things that I found interesting, and they made it into the song," Coffman said. As for the hip-hop connection, Longstreth explained, "The beat is based on T-Pain. We commissioned a radio mix of the song by the guy who mixes all of Timbaland's records, but the mix we made sounded way better, so we didn't use it."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com