Ty Burr
June 14, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Meet the Applegates

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
90 minutes
performer
Ed Begley Jr., Stockard Channing, Dabney Coleman
director
Michael Lehmann
distributor
CBS/Fox Home Video
genre
Comedy

We gave it a D-

While Hudson Hawk has received a critical carpet-bombing, its director, Michael Lehmann, has been painted as an innocent — the naive film-school sheep thrown in with the big crass wolves. But Lehmann can make a lousy movie all on his own, thank you. Meet the Applegates is reeking proof.

The premise is swiped from the old ”Conehead” skits on Saturday Night Live: Giant, intelligent insects from the Amazon rain forest disguise themselves as a white-bread suburban family, the better to infiltrate and overthrow mankind. The grindingly unsubtle joke is that the Applegates are immediately suckered in by the all-American dreams of sex, drugs, and easy credit. But satire needs real-life subjects to score off of, and Lehmann’s characters are cartoons of cartoons. As Ma and Pa Applegate, Ed Begley Jr. and Stockard Channing (a brilliant stage actress who, somehow, hasn’t made a good movie in 20 years of trying) stand around with sickly grins. Applegates plays marginally better on the small screen, where the dumb, sub-Mad magazine humor feels more at home, but you’ll probably find yourself reaching for the Raid before it’s over. D-

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