Wednesday, August 24, 2011
bad/awesome flixxx review: Starman (1984)
"Well, I guess the question is who's the missionary, and who are the cannibals?"- Sherman
"Define shit."- Starman
"Do you seriously expect me to tell the President that an alien has landed, assumed the identity of a dead housepainter from Madison, Wisconsin and is presently out tooling around the countryside in a hopped up orange and black 1977 Mustang? "- Fox
Continuing my John Carpenter marathon, I decided to review this classic sci/fi love story. I can't tell you how unbelievably cute I've always thought Karen Allen was... Indiana Jones, even when she's older in Scrooged, and here in Starman, she has always made me melt. This is another fine piece of the Carpenter canon, albeit different than his usual fare. He's been quoted as saying that whenever THE THING flopped, he needed to make a more mainstream flick like this so that his career didn't go down in flames. Not to say this is some sappy love story. This is a very heartfelt, somewhat typical, but nevertheless well written sci fi story, and I'd also say wonderfully executed. The explosions are big, the scenery is beautiful, the car is great, the filmography is amazing. Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen star in John Carpenter's STARMAN!!!
Also, kudos goes out to Jeff Bridges for not playing his usual laid back character. I know you might be saying, well this is early on, 15 years before he plays the Dude, but still, even in his early roles like THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT or THE LAST AMERICAN HERO he played an easy going young man. In his role here as Starman, he plays a developing extra terrestrial and he plays it well. Our story here begins with the Voyager II space probe sending out a message into space explaining who we are and inviting other aliens to come visit us and explained "greetings" in 54 languages. So it crashes into some ringed planet and within minutes they send out a probe.
Instead of receiving the alien's ship with open arms, the army shoots at it immediately throwing it off course. The ship crashes into a lake behind this chick's house in Wisconsin who's husband recently passed away. So the alien inside pops out and he's just a ball of blue light. He floats across the lake into her house, starts up a reel to reel that has footage of the dead husband on it. Then it flips through a photo album and sucks itself down into a lock of hair, seemingly replicating the dead dude's DNA. Meanwhile, the army sends this dude named Sherman to investigate since he's an alien expert. The alien is born on the floor out of nothing basically, and it wakes up the girl, Jenny Hayden. Jenny watches this baby grow from a baby to a kid, to a full man in a matter of minutes right before her eyes, and she passes out in the waste basket. Then he watches more of the the husband and learns to shoot a gun. He hears the cops coming in helicopters, so he uses one of these magic space marbles that he brought with him to send a message to his alien buddies to pick him up and get him the fuck outta there.
So right away Jenny tries to escape, but Starman grabs her and holds a gun on her, learning and remembering everything he sees, hears, or encounters, becoming smarter by the moment. He tells her he has to get from Wisconsin to Arizona to meet his boys asap or he'll croak out. She doesn't give a shit in the beginning, she takes every opportunity to try to get away all throughout the night and the next day. But Starman finally convinces her he means no harm. She starts to dig him too, partially because he looks like her old dude, and partially because she is sympathetic to him and how dumb and clumsy he is, she realizes he can't do this without her. And she already lost one dude that looked like him, she doesn't want this one to die too. So the feds are chasing them at every turn, and they stop at a rest stop and she's about to ditch him thinking he'll figure it out, when she sees him bring this deer back to life, and then these rednecks try to kick his ass. She knows he's something special then, and they split. They decide to lay low at a hotel but the pigs are onto them, and a kid from Chapel Hill NC Tarheels warns them, so they bail. The pigs give chase and fatally wound Jenny. They escape and Starman hides them both in half a doublewide headed down the road. Starman heals her, and then splits with a cook out of town. Jenny calls the feds and tells them to ease off of them.
Jenny follows Starman in a hotrod and catches him at a roadblock. They hitch a ride with some people and hop a train. While they are drying from the rain, they make love. Starman tells her he has to go, even though he doesn't want to, but he put a baby in her, after she told him it couldn't be done. He said he'd be a space baby, but normal. They go too far into Vegas, and Starman jukes the slots at the casino and buys a Cadillac. They head to the crater to meet his boys, stop at a diner, and the they're detained by the cops. Sherman gets there first and they talk him into letting them bail. Starman and Jenny head into the crater, while Fox and the feds surround the crater in like 15 helicopters. But then a whole goddamn planet descends down to Earth and the helicopters land, and Starman gives Jenny his last magic marble and waves goodbye. Heavy. Makes me wanna make love to an Earth woman and put a magic baby in her belly. And bring deer back to life. The only thing weird about this movie was in essence, Starman came to Earth, and within 5 minutes he was like "fuck this, I'm ready to go back home." HAHAHA. John Carpenter you rule.