tek's rating: ½

My Stepmother Is an Alien (PG-13)
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This came out in 1988. I first saw it... probably on TV, sometime in the late 80s or early 90s. And then I didn't see it again until 2018, on DVD (a double feature that also includes Little Secrets). Before rewatching it, I think the only thing I remembered about it was that at the end, Jon Lovitz's character said "They all look like Princess Stephanie!" (I don't think I even knew who that was, but I certainly don't, now. I suppose it's possible I knew back then, and later forgot. But honestly, I would have been more likely to think the alien women to whom he was referring looked like the women from various Robert Palmer videos.) I suppose I also remembered a bit of the cast, aside from Lovitz. I mean, I knew the main characters were played by Dan Aykroyd and Kim Basinger. And years after I first saw the movie, I learned that Alyson Hannigan had been in it. That's not something I would have remembered, because it would have meant nothing to me until she became famous for "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." But her presence in the movie was probably the biggest reason I had any interest in rewatching it. (Though I guess I also wanted to see it again just so I could write a review.) And it wasn't until watching the opening credits that I learned Seth Green was in it; though by the time his character appeared, I had forgotten about that, and failed to recognize him. But it was a very unimportant role. Anyway, it's not a particularly good movie, but I didn't think it was terrible. And I'm sorry it only made back around half its budget, in theaters. There were definitely some parts where I found the humor cringeworthy for how bad it was, but there were other parts I found reasonably amusing.

So, Aykroyd plays a scientist named Steven Mills, who has been intensely focused on his work, ever since his wife died five years ago. Although this focus doesn't seem to have hurt his relationship with his 13-year-old daughter, Jessie (Hannigan). I'd have to say their relationship is probably my favorite thing about the movie. Anyway, one evening, Steven and his assistant are trying to send a radio signal out of the solar system, counting on lightning striking the radio telescope to boost their signal. Meanwhile, Steve's brother, Ron (Lovitz) comes by his office, planning to take him out to pick up women, or whatever, but Steve isn't interested, because the conditions for his experiment are just right, and won't be again for quite awhile. Then, something unexpected happens, and the signal ends up being transmitted to another galaxy. (This is, of course, absurdly impossible, but just go with it.) Of course, Steve's excited, but the experiment ends up frying all the scanners and whatnot, so there's no proof of what he accomplished... there's just a lot of very expensive damage. So his boss fires him.

Subsequently, a woman named Celeste Martin (Basinger) comes to Earth to find Steve. We soon learn that his signal had disrupted the gravity on her planet, which, unless the signal was repeated within the next few days, would lead to her planet's destruction. But she can't tell him any of that. And she's being advised on Earth culture by some kind of alien device (or creature, it really wasn't clear to me whether it was alive or not) in her purse. The thing, which is just referred to as "Bag," is supposedly an expert on Earth, but of course its research on our planet was rather muddled. (This kind of put me in mind of Control from Hard Time on Planet Earth.) So... Celeste ends up seeming crazy. Not that Steve or anyone else really minds, because she's beautiful. In fact, she goes home with him the first night they meet, and... stuff happens. The next morning, Jessie is excited to learn that Celeste had spent the night with her dad, because she wants him to find love again. (Honestly, I thought she was a little too cool with the situation to really be believable.) Soon after that, Steve learns that Celeste has to go back home (to "the Netherlands") and never return, so... he proposes to her. Yeah... I pretty much always find it impossible to believe anyone falls in love as quickly as they do in movies, but this really takes the cake, when it comes to unbelievability. (But once again... just go with it.)

Well, so they get married that day, I guess. And Celeste gets Bag to call Steve's former boss, imitating Carl Sagan (actually voiced by Harry Shearer), to get him to give Steve his job back, so that he'd be able to send the signal again. Unfortunately, Steve has no idea what caused the boost that happened the first time. (Though Bag assumes he's lying about not knowing.) Meanwhile, Jessie sees Celeste doing some very strange things (I mean beyond her normal level of strangeness), and tries to warn her dad, but he doesn't believe her. (Which is the one thing about Steve and Jessie's relationship that I didn't like. I mean... the things she was saying about Celeste were kind of unbelievable, but on the other hand, he already knew Celeste was pretty weird... and that she knew things she shouldn't... and that she was obsessed with his work. And aside from all that, he seemed to have such a good relationship with his daughter, and it wouldn't make sense for her to go from being totally happy for him to suddenly trying to disrupt his happiness.) But... he eventually learns the truth, in a way that immediately reconciles him with Jessie and makes Jessie trust Celeste. And... while I can understand being freaked out about his wife being an alien, and yet deeply saddened by realizing she still had to leave the planet soon... I do think it was hugely irresponsible of him to take as much time as he did mulling over the question of whether or not to save an entire alien race from extinction.

Then again... well, another complication arises, which I don't want to spoil. I'll just say that eventually, there is a happy ending for everyone. Aside from that, I guess there's not much to say. Except Seth Green played a boy who Jessie went on a date with. We see them leave and later return, but not the date itself, and his character added nothing whatsoever to the plot. (Oddly enough, it wasn't until I started looking up links for the top of the review that I remembered Green had been in "Buffy" with Hannigan, so just because of that, I found his presence in the movie kind of neat.) Although, I also want to mention that there's one thing TV Tropes mentions about the movie (caffeine getting Celeste drunk) that I read after watching the movie... and I'm pretty sure it didn't happen in the copy I watched, so I don't know what's up with that. And it makes me wonder if there are other things that might have been removed from this copy. I suppose it's not important, though. But one thing I did want to say I liked about the movie was a recurring theme involving Jimmy Durante. (And there's a brief post-credits scene you might want to wait for, though it's not really important... I mean, it's not really part of the movie, in any way.)


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