The Principals: John Glover, Juliette Lewis, Richard Portnow, Joshua John Miller.
The Premise: John Glover (perhaps best known from his role as Clamp in Gremlins 2) stars as the father of the Hollowhead family in a bizarre, underground world. The man is a great meter reader for the United Umbilical Company, a company that spurts various liquids and goos to the community. His wife, for instance, makes a quite disgusting meal out of various goops and pieces of creatures that are splooged in though the tubes hooked up in their kitchen.
Their oldest son fancies himself a musician, and plays an instrument that looks like a live rubber chicken standing between two trombones near a keyboard. There is also the Hollowheads daughter (Juliette Lewis), who’s growing older and getting into all the usual trouble that teens do, when she’s not rocking amazing duets with her brother about a positive self image.
The youngest son likes to play games with his troublemaker friend, such as one where they shoot live bugs at a dartboard and it splatters all over them. All of the Hollowhead children fight every day to not be be the one who has to feed Grampa, who is being secretly kept downstairs in whatever counts as a basement in this cavernous world.
We join the family as the Hollowhead father’s boss gets a visit from his new boss Marty Crabneck (Richard Portnow from The Sopranos) and since he’s hoping for a raise- his first in his 14 year career!- he wants everyone to be on good behavior. It’s a bit hard though, as Crabneck spends dinner making fun of the father, trying to beat the shit out of the youngest son, making all kinds of innuendo towards his daughter, and actually motorboating his wife. So yeah, things don’t go well and soon the family has some bigger problems to take care of. Like where to put Crabneck’s body.
As you can tell, this is a kid’s movie.
Also! Anne Ramsey (of Throw Mama From the Train and Goonies fame) shows up as as a supervisor in the pipes- her last film before she died of throat cancer
Good: It’s absolutely insane, is what it is. At its heart it’s a spoof of that classic 1950s All-American family sitcom, but it’s disgusting, bizarre, and absolutely surreal. It’s the kind of movie you watch just to say you watched.
It Worth A Look: Yes, if only to remember that movies for kids didn’t need to be so soft.
Random Anecdotes: It’s rare when a movie takes me by surprise but after Netflix recommended me this one (it’s on Instant) and the synopsis sounded ridiculous enough, I threw it on. I did not expect to see this.
If you watch this and want to know what was going on in the minds of the filmmakers who created it, there’s an excellent and exhaustive production journal by screenwriter Lisa Morton available online.
Soulmates: Little Monsters, Beetlejuice, Time Bandits, Pee Wee’s Playhouse.