Joe Dante has never shied away from a little cultural iconoclasm, skewering a whole Brazilian steakhouse’s worth of sacred cows—John Wayne! The apocalypse! Unusually diminutive military personnel!—over the course of his cinematic career. Still, there’s “speaking your mind,” and then there’s “Going after Baby Yoda,” and the Gremlins director has apparently decided it’s time to challenge that particular genre throne.
This is per a conversation Dante recently had with The San Francisco Chronicle, in which he promoted an upcoming double-screening of the original Gremlins and his absurdist masterpiece, Gremlins 2: The New Batch. (While also, of course, pouring a little promotional fuel onto his upcoming HBO Max kids show, Gremlins: Secrets Of The Mogwai.) When the topic of Gremlins’ longevity came up, Dante attributed it to just one factor: Gizmo, the adorable Mogwai protagonist of the films.
“I think the longevity of (the films) is really key to this one character (Gizmo), who is essentially like a baby,” Dante stated with what the Chronicle called “a wry smile,” before launching into a cheerfully unprovoked attack on The Mandalorian and the Star Wars brand: “Which brings me, of course, to the subject of Baby Yoda, who is completely stolen and is just out-and-out copied. Shamelessly, I would think.”
We should, of course, note that Dante is not above a little huckster-style shit-stirring for the sake of promotion—this is, after all, a guy who directed a love letter to the master of the artform, William Castle, in the form of 1993's Matinee. The upshot is that it seems to have worked: All the major trades have covered Dante’s comments, and “Gizmo” is currently trending on Twitter. (Also, we can’t help but note that Dante’s estimation of the two characters is functionally dead-on; sorry, Grogu.) Whether any of that will translate to more eyes on Secrets Of The Mogwai—which co-stars the voice talents of Ming-Na Wen and James Hong—when it debuts later this year, remains to be seen.