My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988)

So here’s another movie I watched a whole bunch between 1989 and about 1991.

In the late 80s and early 90s, I was hitting puberty pretty much like Mark McGwire would hit dingers – hard and fast.  During this time, I would find movies and TV shows as sources of my adolescent crushes.  I don’t think we need to revisit my damn near stalker-level love of both Alyssa Milano and Phoebe Cates.  I think we’ve covered that quite a bit.  Last week, you learned that I was hot in my britches for Teri Copely.  There were two other ladies that hit the scene in 1989 that I wanted to see whatever I could – Kim Basinger and the cat lady from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

Since the cat lady from Star Trek V would likely land me in jail in most states, I think we should talk about Kim Basinger and 1988’s My Stepmother Is an Alien.

Literally hot off seeing her on the big screen in Batman, I wanted to see everything Kim Basinger did.  Some of it was perfectly fine – Blind Date and, to a very small degree, Never Say Never Again as a couple examples.  Some of it was not so good.  However, this one, because it starred a pretty popular comedian in Dan Aykroyd, and was the movie she made last before hitting it big in Batman, was on TV a lot.  It was relatively harmless for people of all ages, despite some weird sex stuff I’ll get to later, so it could air pretty much at any time of day.

Most people I knew, both boys and girls, watched this movie.  It was the rare goofball comedy that was able to cross over to both genders of a certain age.  For me, I’ve seen this movie so many times, that there are specific images that are forever burned into my mind.  Like when we first see Basinger’s Celeste put on her stockings was erotic as fuck, or when she comes into the bedroom to have sex with Aykroyd, or when she saves Alyson Hannigan’s character with crazy space powers, or when baby Seth Green shows up to take Hannigan out on a date.  This movie was a cornerstone in my life.

Admittedly, I’m a little concerned about watching this for the blog.  I have nothing but lovely memories of watching this movie.  I have a very bad feeling it doesn’t hold up.  But let’s get this thing started and see if my fears are founded or not.

While this movie’s credits roll, I should say what the synopsis is.  It’s pretty simple – Dan Aykroyd is an astrophysicist who sends a message out into space which unknowingly threatens another world.  They send Celeste (Kim Basinger) to seduce him as part of a plan to reverse the effects and save her home world.  Seems totally legit.

The movie actually starts with Dr. Steven Mills (Aykroyd) getting chewed out by his boss who is worried Mills is going to ruin their expensive equipment.  Now, Mills works to try to find intelligent life in other parts of space, but his boss doesn’t like the fact that he’s sending a message that will take 92 years to reach its destination and another 92 years for a response to be received.  I kinda feel like the guy funding all this space messaging doesn’t understand how it works.

What’s worse is that Steve’s brother, Ron (Jon Lovitz), is hassling him about going to some party.  Ron is more money and power driven with his Rolls Royce, his Ralph Lauren sport coat, and his insatiable lust for partying and women.  Steve has no time for parties.  Tonight’s the night that everything lines up properly to send his message.  Yet, his brother’s mere presence, or more accurately, his coat’s presence, coupled with the lightning powering the transmission, Steve’s message is sent out even further than he intends because the buttons on Ron’s coat conducted extra electricity that super boosted the message.  Unfortunately, the computers short out and he’s unable to prove what he did, so Steve gets fired.

At home, we meet Jessie (Hannigan in her first major role) who is the person we could ultimately say will, at some point, be able to someday tell someone what the title of this movie is.  She seems to be kind of a bright, go-getter type because when she learns her dad is out of a job, she offers to double her babysitting or pick up a paper route or generally do whatever she can to help.  We also learn that Steve’s wife, and her mother, has passed away.

Now, I have to admit that I always thought 14 year old Alyson Hannigan is pretty much the physical personification of Peppermint Patty in this movie.  When we first see her, her hair is exactly like the Peanuts character, as is the green shirt, and the kind of deep, somewhat husky voice.  When I was a kid, I was sure that was Peppermint Patty in this movie.  However, she is one of the best things about this movie.

But fuck all that touchy feely shit.  Bring on Celeste!

Celeste arrives on Earth at a party at Ron’s beach house.  When she enters, she finds Steve, but not before being approached by one of the waitresses where she confuses cigarette butts for hor d’oeuvres (because she’s a kooky alien out on the prowl).  When she approaches Steve she straight out asks if he will give the composition of his radar beam.  She starts babbling on about stuff she “knows” about him (which is all wrong), but then walks around the party spouting insane things because her research about Earth was all wrong.  Of course Steve likes her – a lot.

I feel your pain, bro.

Steve talks to her in private where he explains what he did with his radar.  She wants him to take her to the lab so he can show her what he did.  When he said he was fired and can’t take her, she switches tactics and cuddles up to him.  When he tries to kiss her, she freaks out a bit and asks Jessie for fashion advice.  If this all sounds crazy, it is.  It really, really is.  However, there is a point here to be made.

Her purse is also able to style her hair from straight to curly.

Celeste is a fish out of water.  She has no idea what is appropriate or not on Earth.  She carries a purse around that, spoiler alert, has a worm in it.  A worm with an eyeball that was sent with her to give her more information about Earth customs and assists her with her mission.  She often asks the purse questions, gets advice, and even feeds it with things – like the fashion magazines Jessie gave her when she needed a new outfit so the purse could spit out a different dress.  That was really exhausting to explain, but it serves another purpose.  It was the first time Jessie witnessed something strange about Celeste to lead her to wonder if she is, indeed, her stepmother… er…  I mean an alien.

Cause her to wonder if she is an alien.

Anyway, Steve and Celeste are able to get access to the lab where she is found by Steve’s former boss, but Celeste easily gets rid of him by using her purse to eject him out of the lab and throws him into his car.  He takes her to the radar dish and tells her that he’s wanted to kiss her from the moment he first saw her – especially after she did all the crazy stuff at the party.  Dude…  I’d probably cool it with this just in case she is completely out of her mind which, by the way, she clearly is.  They kiss in a bunch of different ways from old movie clips that her purse shows her.

He takes her home where they fuck.  Hard.

Now imagine being a 12 year old boy who just started to figure out sex stuff and that scene happens with what might be one of the most beautiful ladies ever.  I basically had the same expression on my face as Dan Aykroyd.  And I know I really should be flaccid for the rest of my life after seeing all of Dan Aykroyd’s sex faces, but instead, I just laugh.  Why?  Because this is the 90th movie I’ve covered for this blog.  At least 80 of these movies have scarred me to the point of never having another erection ever again.  I think I can handle Dan Aykroyd’s “gettin’ a blowjob” face.

Proof that Celeste was originally going to be Shelley Long.  Seriously, that is a Shelley Long dress.

The next morning, Celeste is seen in Steve’s robe by Jessie, who is really excited her dad is getting snizz from a lady.  Celeste says says she is going home that night.  Out of desperation of losing this hot piece of ass, Steve asks Celeste to marry him (tell me about it).  She tries to talk over the decision she has to make with her purse, and says she needs to meet with the council.  She learns that her home planet’s gravity has increased three times over.  They also order her to kill Jessie because her purse said she saw Celeste put magazines into the purse to produce a dress.  They also say she needs to go through with the marriage which she is excited for because she gets to have more sex.

Wait…  What’s the problem with Celeste’s home planet?  Oh, fuck it, who cares.

So, two hours later, and a mere 14 hours after meeting her, Celeste and Steve are getting married in front a house full of people.  On her way downstairs, Jessie witnesses Celeste “eating” by sucking a few D batteries dry.  Steve brushes it off thinking she’s just being weird about someone new coming into her life.  Later that night, Jessie goes to a dance with Seth Green setting up a backdoor pilot for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  After she plows ol’ Stevie boy again, she goes out grocery shopping so she can feed him so he has no excuse to not work – which turns out to be an entire menu from a diner she picked up when she went out.  When Jessie comes home, she spies Celeste drinking the acid from the car battery, taking eggs out of boiling water and take a pan out of the oven with her bare hands.  In the morning, Steve is told by his former boss (who the purse worm called up the night before, impersonating Carl Sagan, and gave Steve a glowing recommendation) that he has his job back.

Trying to explain things that happen in this movie is really hard.  And exhausting.

Jessie sees Celeste talking to her purse and moving super fast to clean the house.  She calls Steve at work saying the house is on fire so he will come home and see Jessie is telling the truth.  Jessie pleads that Steve didn’t know how he got the message 92 light years away into a neighboring galaxy.  Celeste agrees that it might have been an accident even though the purse worm thinks both Steve and Jessie are lying.

Oh…  Yeah, I’ve said “purse” or “purse worm” a few times.  Yeah, Celeste’s partner on this mission to Earth is a literal eyeball snake in her purse which she calls “Bag”.  It’s very… Japanese (if you catch my drift).

Jesus Christ this is unsettling to see as an adult.

Of course Steve comes home after Celeste gets Bag to release her.  She begs her dad to believe her after all the strange stuff is going on.  When he doesn’t believe her, she runs out of the house and rides her bicycle away and just as she is about to be hit by a car, Celeste uses her purse to make Jessie float through the car unharmed.  Knowing Celeste gave herself away to save her, Jessie seems totally cool now with her stepmother being an alien.

Steve confronts Celeste about how she lied to him and he learns more about how her planet is harmonious and how they spend all their efforts to better themselves and the planet as a whole.  They are both conflicted.  He wants her to stay but also knows that if he doesn’t help her, he’ll kill her entire planet.  She wishes she could stay too, but knows she would be called home.

This is a really nice scene.  Kim Basinger is cute and likable, and this scene is 100% why Dan Aykroyd is in this and not some other guy.  It helps remind you that Dan Aykroyd, for all his successes on Saturday Night Live and all his classic 80s comedies, was still kind of an every man schlub and you liked him – a lot.

The final act kicks off from here as it starts to storm and, when Celeste is shocked by the metal buttons on Steve’s shirt, he realizes the buttons on Ron’s jacket was the wild card that caused the message to get beamed two galaxies away to hit Celeste’s home.  They rush to the lab and recreate the beam.  After telling Celeste that the plan is to blow up Earth after the problem is fixed, Bag gets left behind.  Ron is tricked into bringing Bag to the lab by pretending to be Celeste and telling him she wishes to run away with him.  Just before Bag blows up Earth, Steve tosses the purse into the device that is sending the signal causing it to blow up.

Celeste’s elders tell her to come home, but after showing them her experiences on Earth through her eyes, they agree they don’t need to blow it up.  The council wants her to come home so they can learn more about Earth.  Ron volunteers because he finds out that everyone is at least as beautiful as Celeste.  Ron leaves, Celeste stays with Steve and Jessie and everything ends happily.

I’m so happy to say, despite some of the really silly stuff (like the Jimmy Durante stuff that I was always on the fence on), the movie still holds up.  It’s a goddamn blast to watch.  It even ends with the usual 1980s pop rock song in the credits.  Also, Kim Basinger is still really, really hot.

It’s not entirely without its flaws.  Yes, Dan Aykroyd and Kim Basinger are pretty great together.  There are some pretty good jokes.  You’re reminded that Jon Lovitz was kind of amazing.  You also get the 80s-ness of it all.  I don’t know if I fall into the majority or the minority here, but I positively love how Basinger played Celeste.  She has this old timey, almost Betty Boop like charm that she uses in some of her reactions to things.  You truly believe she is experiencing things for the very first time and dammit, I love her even more for it.

Also, this movie was also made by Richard Benjamin who made The Money Pit, featured a score by Academy Award winner Alan Silvestri, and had special effects designed and made by Academy Award winner John Dykstra.  There’s some serious talent here.

However, there are strange things about it.  First of all, this movie was clearly made with the idea in mind that it could pretty much be watched by the whole family.  It’s doesn’t use a single curse word that I can remember.  Like, seriously, I don’t think there is anything above a “damn” or “hell”.  There’s a major character who is a pre-teen/teenage girl.  There’s an innocence to some of the jokes.  That is until you get to the sex stuff.  This movie is hopped up on viagra.  Celeste LOVES sex.  Steve loves to get sex from Celeste.  Ron is the horniest man alive.  That thing in the purse looks like a cyclops’ dick.  It is aggressive in its portrayal of carnal things.

The other thing is a whole Jimmy Durante subplot thing in this movie.  I don’t know if this is a Dan Aykroyd thing or a Richard Benjamin thing or something that showed up in one version of the script and stayed through to the end or not.  Whoever brought this to the movie, it’s weird.  It starts with Steve saying a hat on his hat rack actually belonged to Durante, then is followed by Celeste watching some of one of his movies after the first time she had sex with Steve, and it ends with a duet between them for the council to try to convince them not to blow up Earth.  I’m guessing it is being used in some way to indicate humanity, but I think there were probably better examples to use than Jimmy Durante – something that even 30 years ago, seemed horribly out of date.

The film also had TEN writers (four credited, six uncredited).  That is way too many and it kinda shows it.  The original writer said he pitched this six or seven years before it was made as a child abuse allegory.  I cannot even picture that at all.  There are some elements that are goofy, some may even seem terrifying, but for the most part, it feels like it was a movie that wanted to be lots of things to different people.  You can definitely feel that unevenness here and there.

But never mind all that, just watch this for the innocence it tries to bring with it and the silly 80s style jokes that do land.  Seriously…  I really do still very much like this movie.

The countdown to the 100th B-Movie Enema article begins next week as I decide to revisit one of my very favorite sub-genres – blaxploitation.  I’m watching a movie I know practically nothing about but looks fucking amazing nonetheless.  Come back next week for Darktown Strutters!

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