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Meet the Applegates Review

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Enraged by the destruction of the Brazilian rain forest, a bunch of brainy insects bone up on middle American mores from a Dick and Jane primary reader, slip into people suits and go undercover in Median, Ohio. Their mission: to sabotage a nuclear reactor and rid the world of pesky humans.

★★★★★

The suspects who cooked up this insane comedy - namely Heathers director Michael Lehmann and co-writer Redbeard Simmons - are practically inviting a visit from the drugs squad. What have these guys been munching? Chronicling the adventures of a team of giant Amazonian insects masquerading as an average American family, it was a touch hip in it's time, occasionally hysterical and completely ridiculous, mixing domestic sitcom satire with environmental chic.

Despite their disgusting dietary requirements - mealtimes chez Applegate are revoltingly reminiscent of The Fly - sexual proclivities and mounting pile of cocooned victims in the cellar, the neighbors are rather slow on the uptake. The lampooning of The American Way is totally obvious here, quite sick and pretty amusing, with the level of humour perhaps best epitomised by a scene in which the frustrated Dick repairs to the bathroom with a copy of Scientific America to, er, you-know-what over a photo spread of mating insects.

Begley and Channing - once accurately described as a cross between Elizabeth Taylor and a chipmunk - play this deadpan for all they’re worth, and Dabney Coleman is particularly good value in an extended cameo as camp Cocorada bug Aunt Bea.

Pleasingly short, this corruption of the family unit by sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll (and credit cards) is quite a giggle - particularly if under some sort of, er, 'influence'...

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