In his weird 1988 debut Heathers, Lehmann gave a bizarre twist to the usual portrayal of US teen life. In this pic he takes an even more extreme approach to sending up American family life. In a bid to save the Brazilian rain forest from development, a family of giant beetles is sent to infiltrate American society and blow up a nuclear power station as a warning.

In his weird 1988 debut Heathers, Lehmann gave a bizarre twist to the usual portrayal of US teen life. In this pic he takes an even more extreme approach to sending up American family life. In a bid to save the Brazilian rain forest from development, a family of giant beetles is sent to infiltrate American society and blow up a nuclear power station as a warning.

Chameleon-like, they assume the form of humans, and, learning from a Fun with Dick and Jane reader, become the average America family. Surrounded by temptations in a community-minded town in Ohio, the family soon degenerates, with Dick (Ed Begley Jr) having an affair, Jane (Stockard Channing) becoming obsessed with credit and alcohol, Johnny (Bobby Jacoby) turning into a dope dealer and Sally (Cami Cooper) becoming pregnant.

Such a wacky premise could derail easily, but Lehmann handles it with humor and paces it well. Begley and company play it for all it’s worth, and seem to be having a ball. Scenes of the Applegates becoming bugs (usually with disastrous consequences) are cleverly done.

Meet the Applegates

Production

New World. Director Michael Lehmann; Producer Denise Di Novi; Screenplay Redbeard Simmons, Michael Lehmann; Camera Mitchell Dubin; Editor Norman Hollyn; Music David Newman; Art Director Jon Hutman

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1991. Running time: 82 MIN.

With

Ed Begley Jr Stockard Channing Cami Cooper Bobby Jacoby Dabney Coleman Glenn Shadix
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