This Looks Terrible: A Gnome Name Gnorm (1990)
I choose what pop culture detritus I write about for this site through a rigorously half-assed method. I was thinking about what I would write about as the main feature for Tuesday over the weekend when I encountered a tweet with the poster of the 1990 inter-species buddy cop comedy A Gnome Named Gnorm. I suddenly knew exactly what I would write about. I would finally, after all these years of being way too amused by the title, premise and existence of a motion picture entitled A Gnome Named Gnorm be able to experience it for myself.
Yes, I would watch and write about A Gnome Named Gnorm because no one can stop me. No one is going to burst through the door of my condo and yell, “You can’t write about A Gnome Named Gnorm just because you used to giggle at the box back in your video store days. You have to write something timely and clickable, viral-friendly and related to either Avengers: Endgame or the Joker trailer.”
That’s one of the main things I love about this website: I can write about whatever the fuck I want and you support me all the same. Today doing whatever the fuck I want involves plugging the A Gnome Named Gnorm-sized and shaped hole in my life and base of knowledge by finally watching it and sharing my experiences with you, the reader, who may not even know that a movie entitled A Gnome Named Gnorm exists.
A Gnome Named Gnorm, which was filmed in 1988, released in 1990, then re-released in 1992, has the distinction of being one of only two feature films directed by the late Stan Winston, a make-up and creature effects legend who won Academy Awards for his work in Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Jurassic Park.
I believe in giving credit where it is due and the titular character in A Gnome Named Gnorm, a gnome named Gnorm, would be a very impressive technical and creative achievement, an elegantly designed, soulful-looking creature who wouldn’t look or feel out of place in Labyrinth or The Dark Crystal, were it not for everything the little creep says and does.
From the vantage point of today, the titular gnome named Gnorm feels like the story of an otherworldly Incel, a puny, beta cuck tunneler who wants to impress a big-breasted gnome named Rena who loves warriors, not puny tunnelers, and spends much of the film leering at human breasts and butts, commenting on human breasts and butts, which he “adorably” refers to as popos and roundies, lovingly placing the palm of his hand on a shapely female behind and climatically enthusiastically trying to French kiss a human detective he really wants to fuck when all she really wants is a polite peck on the cheek.
I know what you’re probably thinking at this point: do we get a good, solid shot of the titular Gnome named Gnorm’s hairy gnome ass? Yes, yes we do. We’ve got naked male butts of the human and gnome variety in this motion picture, and it’s implied that the pretty detective with the “nice roundie” the gnome named Gnorm tries to make out with against her will gets a good long look at the gnome named Gnorm’s gnaked penis in all its presumably uncircumcised glory.
Is the gnome gnamed Gnorm hung like a horse or is he a pencil-dick motherfucker? I can’t believe you’d even ask a question like that. After all, this is a fantasy comedy for children. It has to draw a line somewhere, and A Gnome Named Gnorm wisely chooses to draw the line at gnome frontal gnudity.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. A Gnome Named Gnorm hilariously miscasts Anthony Michael Hall, who was about twenty when the film was made but looked a good five years younger, as Casey Gallagher, the wisecracking bad boy of his police department.
Hall’s character is supposed to be inexperienced and raw but he’s presumably not supposed to be the 12 year old, four foot tall Doogie Howser of the mismatched buddy cop comedy world, which is how he comes off.
Gallagher and the gnome named Gnorm hook up when the gnome named Gnorm witnesses a murder committed by someone who has taken control of the “Lumen”, a magical glowing rock of infinite power he must retrieve and recharge in order to save his people.
Now if I were to encounter a creature from another world unlike any mankind has ever known I would be pretty fucking blown away by my discovery. If I were to encounter, for example, a Yeti or a Chupacabra in my daily wanderings, I would be eager to reveal my findings to the world and receive all of the money and attention and fame that would go with it.
Not Gallagher. He seems pretty nonplussed to be unexpectedly partnered up with a fantasy creature beyond his imagination. Gallagher seems to see the little pervert as 98 percent witness to a murder and 2 percent the first gnome that he, and quite possibly all of humanity, has ever met.
It’s easy to see why Gallagher would be as unimpressed with the gnome named Gnorm as we are with Anthony Michael Hall as an action-comedy lead. When Gnorm meets Sam (Claudia Christian), Gallagher’s partner and love interest he makes a special point of scoping out her ass in modest jeans, at one point even grazing its curves with his lustful, lustful, sinful gnome hand.
The gnome named Gnorm is clearly an ass man, as evidenced by his weird semi-grope of the first human woman he meets as well as his enthusiastic declaration to his new partner that she’s a “pooka” with a “nice roundie”, or great ass as Al Pacino so unforgettably bellowed in Heat.
Just when you think you can peg the horny fantastic freak as a peerless appreciator of the female backside he follows up his unsolicited comment about Sam’s ass by saying she has “nice popos” as well.
Does the fact that Gnorm the Freaky Gnome shamelessly objectifies Sam, reducing her to nothing but her breasts and behind while she’s fully clothed and modestly attired make it better or worse? I’m not sure. A Gnome Named Gnorm goes to perverse lengths to sexualize a premise that angrily demands not to be eroticized in any way, shape or form.
The next time Gnorm decides to share his opinions on the big, sexy breasts of human women he and Gallagher are at a stakeout at Venice Beach and he’s leering unashamedly at a pair of enormous breasts spilling out of a low-cut pink top.
“Giant popos!” the gnome named Gnorm yells in salacious appreciation before Gallagher has to urge him to concentrate and maybe, I dunno, see women as complete, three-dimensional human beings with complex feelings and emotions and inner lives instead of fuel for his perverted inter-species fantasies.
In the not so grand tradition of other inter-species buddy comedies like Theodore Rex, Bright and The Happytime Murders, A Gnome Named Gnorm plays its mismatched buddy cop elements perversely straight, albeit with a fucking gnome inhabiting half of buddy cop duo instead of, say, a veteran staring down retirement or a maverick who plays by their own rules. To that end Jerry Orbach gives the film more gritty cop authenticity and personality than it deserves as Gallagher’s boss and the movie’s ultimate villain.
A Gnome Named Gnorm is notable primarily for its impressive creature effects but also for the sheer pervasiveness of its inappropriate, wildly incongruous sexual content. This extends to a “cute” goodbye sequence where the gnome named Gnorm, having retrieved and re-charged the Lumen, goes in for a kiss with Sam, the human lady whose womanly curves he earlier praised to Gallagher.
Sam just wants a cute little peck on the cheek but Gnorm the Gnome is not having it. He is not having it at all. No, Gnorm kisses Sam on the lips and keeps kissing until both Gallagher and Sam have to implore, “Enough!” more than once.
A Gnome Named Gnorm seems charmed by how horny its titular character is for human women and their voluptuous breasts and round, firm posteriors but he just comes off as a fucking gross pervert. Sam is so not into Gnorm, what with him being a fucking gnome and all but he’s not the kind to be discouraged by a woman’s complete lack of interest. Sam is literally saying, “Enough, enough, enough” and all this asshole hears is “Yes, yes, yes.”
Then the titular creep heads back to his world, but not before enthusing “Pooka Sam hot ticket!” which is gnome for “I’d love to fuck that gorgeous human woman” before leaving with the final words of wisdom for Gallagher, “Hey slug lips. Something wrong with you? Make her TOES curl.”
On the most basic level, he’s encouraging his pal to kiss the girl, Little Mermaid style, but considering the perverted funhouse that is Gnorm’s mind, he clearly wants them to do a whole lot more and he wants to be there watching and masturbating and possibly participating as well. It’s way too easy to imagine what the porn parody of A Gnome Named Gnorm would look and feel like.
Renting A Gnome Named Gnorm from Amazon I made a horrifying discovery: the motion picture I have known and loved for being called A Gnome Named Gnorm and for no other reason is available under the title Upworld. Upworld! I mean, sure Upworld references how the gnome named Gnorm refers to the human world and conveys the movie’s fantasy elements in a way that’s not insultingly, unforgettably stupid but how can you change the name of a movie with a title like A Gnome Named Gnorm? That’s the only goddamn reason anybody knows or cares about this idiotic little trifle in the first place.
I definitely would not have devoted today to something called Upworld. So I encourage you to ignore this generic new name and appreciate A Gnome Named Gnorm for what it is: a fascinatingly terrible, bizarrely horny oddity about a Gnome named Gnorm who proves that you didn’t need to be a human being to obnoxiously objectify and harass women: you just have to be a creep, and boy does Gnorm qualify on that front.
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