Critters is the type of film that makes you want to leave your critics notepad at the door. An easy watch and fun enough to keep our minds from wandering.
The film is set in a rural Kansas town that gets invaded by aliens in the form of small furry critters, known as Crites. The creatures have escaped an asteroid prison. Two intergalactic bounty hunters who shape shift into humans they see are in charge of capturing the Crites. The audience mainly follows the Brown family who spends all night protecting themselves and their household from everything that’s going on.
The movie is funny, but not quite as much as you would hope. It’s quirky for sure, and has some humorous details, but the acting is actually a little too good and the characters aren’t stupid for a change, so we can’t even laugh at how bad it is.
Director Stephen Herek usually does a great job with the fish-out-of-water style of comedy, occasionally displayed here. A couple years later he gets to do the same with Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Critters doesn’t take itself too seriously, which almost makes up for how neat and tidy it is. The writing and dialogue is deceptively clever. The intergalactic bounty hunters even develop subtly as characters from beginning to end.
At certain parts, the audience gets a limited viewpoint, perhaps for budgetary reasons, leaving us wanting more. The critters grow bigger and bigger, but we never really fully see it, which is a shame. But at the same time helps prevent any datedness by not giving us the cheap special effects that it would have undoubtedly done.
Critters feels like a B-movie, but isn’t really. The film is too good for what it was set up to be, almost hurting it in the end. Perhaps it would have been better if it starred less notable actors. But the few bright and memorable moments are what keep its audience growing all these years later.