Gremlins 2 got a bad rap. It's a clever, energetic sequel satire, and director Joe Dante had a lot of fun with the film, rather than delivering the by-the-numbers formula everyone expected. I mean, this movie has Leonard Maltin giving a harsh review of the original film (as he did in real life) before being eaten alive on camera by the mean little suckers. That's fun!
Gremlins 2 was the original 22 Jump Street - a film that embraced sequel clichés while ribbing them, and therefore becoming somehow impervious to typical sequel pitfalls. So why did it off the franchise? Who knows. Box office didn't do as well as Gremlins - maybe it suffered from being released the same day as the quite successful Dick Tracy - but it certainly didn't bomb. Critical reception was on the warm side of lukewarm, too.
For my money, it's at least as good a film as its predecessor. It's got a smart, subversive playfulness to it that Gremlins lacks, and it's also got John Glover, who improves literally every project with which he's associated. Also, Phoebe Cates' bob is to die for, and the trailer ends with a dancing Gizmo. What's not to love?
Ultimately, I think Gremlins 2 shot itself in the foot with its self-referential wit. Like 22 Jump Street, after watching it, one feels that there's not really anywhere the franchise can go. For both films, that's a compliment, and for both films, I'd still like to see them try.