Plot: Gage is having a number of problems, being the new kid at school and struggling to make friends, while his mother Cathy (Loni Anderson) dates a real jerk in Elliott (Andrew Stevens), who always taunts him. His studies have suffered and he seems to be the target for both bullies and a sadistic principal, so he could use a break and his lone respite is his crush on the most popular girl in school (Jennifer Love Hewitt). But his bad luck gets a chance to turn around when he stumbles upon a mysterious box, which he opens and unleashes Munchie (voiced by Dom DeLuise), a bizarre creature with a lot of attitude. Munchie creeps out Gage at first, but soon he is using powerful magic to summon a pizza and cracking jokes, providing Gage with the kind of friendship he is in desperate need of. But will Munchie help Gage turn around his predicament, or just land him in even more trouble?
Entertainment Value: This is a hokey, beyond cheesy children’s comedy that almost feels like a slightly warped sitcom, but the presence of the outlandish Munchie ensures this remains an infamous motion picture. This kind of character isn’t that off the wall for a movie aimed at kids, but the absolutely horrific design and constant creepiness makes Munchie more nightmarish than hip or cool. Add in Dom DeLuise as the voice, cracking some of the lamest jokes around and of course, the film shines with b movie and cult appeal. Munchie is a strange sight to be sure, as his facial reactions and even mouth movement have little to nothing to do with what is going on, he seems to randomly animated with no rhyme or reason. This leads to an unsettling experience, since he is so eerie and outlandish in appearance, then jittering and jerking around like a Chuck E. Cheese animatronic on the fritz. Aside from Munchie, the movie is a typical cheesy family comedy from this period, with a lot of awful jokes, over the top performances, and run of the mill storylines. But there is a weird vibe to the whole ride, less intense when Munchie is absent, though it is still there. So if you like some train wreck elements and haunting character design work mixed in with your groan inducing family comedy, give Munchie a shot.
Although the ever hideous Munchie is the real star in this one, he is surrounded by some colorful, fun human costars as well. Jennifer Love Hewitt makes her grand debut here and while she doesn’t have a lot do, she has good presence and her fans will likely appreciate seeing such an early performance. In other small role genres are some genre film favorites such as Fred Olen Ray, Angus Scrimm, Monique Gabrielle, and even Brinke Stevens, all welcome presences. I do wish some had larger roles, but it is still fun to see them in a quirky, family oriented picture. Jamie McEnnan is hilarious as Gage, able to deliver some wacky, over the top reactions to the chaos around him, while Loni Anderson looks good, but does little else here. Andrew Stevens tends to steal the show as the asshole new man in mom’s life, as he dials up his performance and really runs with making him unlikable. His exchanges with McEnnan are always fun to watch, while Stevens is always game to look like a fool or take a pratfall, which helps add some laughs to the movie. Dom DeLuise is amusing as the voice of Munchie, though the awful jokes are more entertaining from a cringe perspective, as he fires off a barrage of mediocre material in hopes something might stick. You can also see Arte Johnson and Toni Naples here, while Jim Wynorski directs.