34 user 15 critic

Meet the Applegates (1990)

2:01 | Trailer
Modeling themselves after an idyllic cookie-cutter suburban 1950s family, a colony of insects move from South America into the United States with the intent of getting access to the nation's nuclear resources.


Michael Lehmann





Cast overview, first billed only:
Ed Begley Jr. ... Richard P. Applegate
Stockard Channing ... Jane Applegate
Dabney Coleman ... Aunt Bea
Robert Jayne ... Johnny Applegate (as Bobby Jacoby)
Camille Cooper ... Sally Applegate (as Cami Cooper)
Glenn Shadix ... Greg Samson
Susan Barnes Susan Barnes ... Opal Withers
Adam Biesk Adam Biesk ... Vince Sampson
Savannah Smith Boucher ... Dottie (as Savannah Smith Bouchér)
Roger Aaron Brown ... Sheriff Heidegger
Lee Garlington ... Nita Samson
Philip Arthur Ross Philip Arthur Ross ... Kevin
Steven Robert Ross Steven Robert Ross ... Kenny
Mark Bringelson ... Rich Block, Family Bazaar Magazine
Chuck Lafont Chuck Lafont ... Clem Shepherd


Giant preying mantis living in a south American jungle decide to move into suburban USA. Disguised as humans, the mantis are planning something.. Could it be connected to dad's job in the power station perhaps ?. One day the daughter mantis forgets WHAT she really is when she's with her boyfriend.. oops. Written by s jones

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Four decent, self-respecting South American beetles have just mutated into something really revolting... the typical American family. See more »


Comedy | Sci-Fi


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

1 February 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Applegates See more »


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$274,815, 3 February 1991, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


Filmed in 1988/1989 but remained unreleased in the United States until early 1991 due to the financial woes of New World Pictures. See more »


Richard P. Applegate: It's imperative that we maintain a believable cover while I infiltrate and sabotage the nucular power plant.
Johnny Applegate: It's "nuclear," Dad.
Richard P. Applegate: Lesson number one: Most people say "nucular." Next time, get it right.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The Image Entertainment LaserDisc release of the film is cut, missing one final scene at the end wherein it is revealed that Aunt Bea is still very much alive (albeit injured) and still optimistic about crushing the human scum by planning on infiltrating NORAD. Instead, the Image LD cut of the film cuts straight to the credits after the final jungle scene, missing the final Aunt Bea scene in its entirety (this scene is present in the TV cut of the film shown on Showtime Flix). See more »


Referenced in Die schlechtesten Filme aller Zeiten: Slugs (2018) See more »

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User Reviews

They are a modern stone-age family...or is it modern age?
17 January 2008 | by film-criticSee all my reviews

"The Applegates" can easily be considered a cult classic for three obvious reasons; a strong cast, a powerful story, and moments that will remain in the chambers of your brain. To begin, the cast is amazing. Director Michael Lehmann,, who also directed a personal favorite film called "Heathers", knows how to make a socially viable comedy that doesn't feel dated or tired. Watch "Heathers" again after watching "Fight Club", and you will see the possible similarities between two films made two decades apart. He made this film using strong actors that typically would never be paired together at all. Who would have imaged I would be sitting here, typing on the computer, indicating to you that I deeply enjoyed a film starring Ed Begley Jr. and Stockard Channing – or even the fact that Dabney Coleman was mixed in there as well?!? This is a first for me. "The Applegates" worked because the cast wasn't fighting from within. They were working together to create comedy (yet again another concept that seems to escape modern cinematic farces), they played off of each other, building their small character into something believable and witty for the greater good – the movie! It was impressive to watch them implode together, but it was equally as fun to see them outside of their element on their own. Begley was dry and perfect for his role as the master-in-command bug, while Channing went through this amazing transformation from modest housewife to spending madman. The same can be said for the two children, which go from bright and sunny to dark and sadistic midway through the film. The human elements that invade these bugs' lives are over-developed for this film, but they work impressively well. These Applegates, as well as the actors that portray them, prove to humans that even if they come to us, we will still destroy their sense of what is right or wrong.

"The Applegates" used a powerful technique for keeping this film easy on the eyes. It used the K.I.S.S. method that I believe helps comedies reach a higher level of repeated viewings. The "Keep It Simple Stupid" was applied to this film by merely saying that these bugs were going to nuke a small town in the United States. There wasn't a fear of technology, over-analyzing, or future consequences – and with a film like this, we didn't need it. I wanted to laugh, bring in thoughts of what is destroying our world, and see a film that was fresh and genuine; and I was able to see it with "The Applegates". The story was superb. It was funny and poignant all at the same time. The cast, which I have already applauded, makes this story come to life and seem more emotional than your typical big-budget cast with over-hyped budget. This was a simple story, and due to the simplicity of the tale, my attention was focused and this film was enjoyed. Where else could you not question Dabney Coleman dressed as "Aunt Bea"?

Finally, the message that Lehmann was trying to release was clear. There are problems in the United States whether we would want to blame them on outside influences or not, we have issues with underage pregnancies, drug use, over-spending, and adultery (perhaps every country does – but we seem to engulf it further). This film exploits them on a group of bugs that gain our sympathies and force us to root for them when they are down. Comedy is the tool used to show us our flaws, but our laughter is not "HA HA HA", but more of a "ha" as we consider our own lives within these bugs. Metaphors abound, we feel sad for these Applegates as they begin to falter in their mission because we are causing the failure. Our obese lifestyles are killing these bugs, and Lehmann isn't afraid to show us that to our face.

Overall, I thought "The Applegates" was yet another strong film released by Michael Lehmann. It was sharp, witty, intelligent, and hysterical as this group of bugs learns what it is like to truly be human. It is a sad story of our human lives, wondering if others would ever watch this film and see us in such a light, one can only wonder. It is a passionate story, with a cast that will truly surprise you and make you question your own choices in life. While it was released during a time where there was heightened fear of the destruction of the Amazon forests, while we battle today with the issue of Global Warming – the two seem to pair well – like a glass of white wine with a chicken salad. "The Applegates" remains a poignant film, and I hope that it will one day see the light of DVD. It needs to be seen by more, as we laugh, these issues need to be addressed. HA. Dabney Coleman dressed as "Aunt Bea". HA! I can't seem to get that out of my mind!

Grade: ***** out of *****

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