Love Gremlins? Adore The Big Bang Theory? Then you're definitely going to want to settle in for The Cleanse. Johnny Galecki takes a rare turn on the big screen in this 80s-style monster movie that is sure to tickle your spine and punch you in the gut, weirdly going out of its way to make you cringe in the process. This is not for the squeamish.
Johnny Galecki (TV's Big Bang Theory) plays Paul Berger, an unemployed, down and out, heartbroken man searching for happiness. When Paul sees an ad for a spiritual retreat promising to restart your life, he immediately signs up, hoping to cleanse himself and fix his broken existence. But after only a few days, he discovers the cleanse is releasing more than just everyday toxins...A lot more.
Also starring Anna Friel, plus Oliver Platt and Academy Award Winner Anjelica Huston (Best Supporting Actress, Prizzi's Honor, 1985) as the leaders of the retreat, The Cleanse is a darkly humorous, weird, and soulful fantasy that examines the inner demons in all of us. Written and Directed by Bobby Miller, Johnny Galecki also produces. He had his to say about the movie.
"The Cleanse is about a group of people who are unhappy in their lives. They go on one of these kind of trendy retreats that are quite the fad now, not really knowing what to expect, and not really knowing what they hope to be the result, but they want, and probably need, change in their lives. And so, they are given a cleanse on their first day, at this retreat, and what the cleanse does is expels all the toxins from your body. What they don't know, and what they soon learn, is that those toxins form into your own personal demon, your own personal pain in an embodied form, literally."
Johnny Galecki is so busy with The Big Bang Theory that he hasn't had much time to devote to the big screen over the past decade. So getting to seem him in theaters this summer is an unexpected treat. But as the actor tells it, this is just one project he couldn't turn down. He says this about taking on the project.
"I thought the film was fun and fantastical, and I hadn't read anything like it before," he says. "Yet, at the same time, it was very nostalgic of things that I had seen and loved growing up, like Gremlins, [and] other things that I loved as I got a little bit older, like The Brood, or even Rosemary's Baby, a lot of [John] Carpenter films."
An interesting note for lovers of old school creature features like Critters and Ghoulies, the monsters in The Cleanse are all practical effects, with some CGI embellishes thrown into make them just a little more realistic. Galecki explains the experience working on set.
"Early on, Bobby and Jordan Horowitz (another of the film's producers) bonded over the idea of using practical effects. Nobody has anything against CGI as an additive. I think we all see the benefit of digital effects. But I think audiences have missed seeing these puppets, I think they miss seeing the sweat and the fingerprints. We used CGI as a sweetener, very, very subtly, in expressions in the eyes and things of that nature. Otherwise, we had real puppeteers there, whether they were under the table with their hand in the puppet or whether they were within the puppet, as the creatures grow bigger. It was a blast; it was really fun. Oddly, when you spend 12 hours a day with these puppets, they become little personalities. They just feel like fellow castmates, as absurd as that sounds."
Galecki couldn't quite believe the cast he'd been paired with. Of the humans working alongside him, perhaps he was most excited about Anjelica Huston as one of the retreat's organizers. He goes onto say this to Entertainment Weekly."Anjelica's fantastic. Everyone knows she's an amazing, gifted actress. But she's also a lot of fun to hang around. Bobby and I were having our initial meeting with her at her house in Venice, and we weren't even sure if she'd even read the script yet, but we knew that we very much hoped that she would read it, love it, and agree to do the movie. As soon as we got there, she told us that she had read the script, she loved the character. She immediately started showing us wardrobe ideas for her character and poured us a flute of champagne. It was like, 'Oh, I guess Angelica's in. Alright, let's go shoot a movie!'"
So, has Johnny ever submitted himself to a real cleanse? He says this."I've done that lemon and cayenne thing, and I've done a few fasts and things of that nature. I think with anything like that, if you approach it with a healthy goal in mind, it's probably a good thing. I'm not giving any cleanse or fasts any commercial or anything like that. But I certainly haven't had the experience that Paul and the other characters had!"
You can experience The Cleanse for yourself on May 4. We have the trailer for you courtesy of Sony right here, along with the poster that shows off one of the little monsters at the heart of this wickedly delightful Drive-In thriller.