Yesterday’s reviewed movie was a high-brow labor of love for its director, so in accordance with the idea of keeping things in balance, today’s movie is a low-brow vanity project. 1988′s Earth Girls Are Easy is an alien-themed romantic musical comedy written, produced, with music from and starring (though not in the lead role), Julie Brown, the singer/actress who got her start on MTV (not to be confused with fellow video jockey “Downtown” Julie Brown.)
One of these days I may learn that morbid curiosity is not a thing to be indulged, but today is not that day. And it was worth a look simply because it had early film roles for both Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans; while not the first film for either of them (in fact, it also wasn’t Brown’s first film despite the credits “Introducing” her), it gave each a fair amount of screen time before they had really made their names known.
Though even as aliens, they’re still playing morons.
The central figure of the movie is California valley girl Valerie (Geena Davis), who initially is looking to spice things up in her relationship with her fiance Ted (Charles Rocket). Unfortunately, she discovers that his lack of interest is solely with her, as he attempts to cheat on her the moment he thinks she’s going to a conference. She throws him out, and proceeds to demolish everything he owns in the house, from smashing his cologne bottles to rolling a bowling ball into his computer. The next day, while she’s moping in her pool, she’s interrupted by the sudden crash landing of a sedan-sized spaceship. After a few misunderstandings, she befriends its crew: Zeebo (Wayans), Wiploc (Carrey), and Mac (Jeff Goldblum, who as the most experienced and least wacky actor, plays the Captain).
A misunderstanding or two is natural when confronted by a technicolor yeti in a speedo and crash helmet.
Valerie invites them into her home, where they learn English from watching TV (though only Mac is truly proficient at it). Knowing they need to blend in until they can repair their ship, she takes them to see her friend Candy (Julie Brown), the hairstylist. After they’re shaved, it turns out that they look just like ordinary human beings and Jim Carrey. Candy insists on taking the trio clubbing, and over the next day all sorts of hijinks ensue, from Zeebo getting into a dance off, to Zeebo and Wiploc inadvertently robbing a mini-mart when Val’s pool boy Woody (Michael McKean) tries to take them to the beach.
All in all, nothing out of the ordinary.
There isn’t much of a plot to the film beyond the predictable romance between Val and Mac, and much of the film is just leaping from one gag to the next, or from one musical number to the next. There’s 80s pop music throughout the film, though not the better selections of that era, and the dance numbers in the film are typically to Julie Brown’s own work. It’s not really bad, but it’s often very obviously shoe-horned in. The film is impressively dumb, but it’s aware of the fact, and unrepentant about it (the song “Because I’m a Blonde” epitomizes the film’s attitude). And while nobody turns in a stellar performance — how could they on this material? — nobody does a terrible job, either. Brown and Davis play convincing valley girls, Goldblum acts befuddled and sensitive, Carrey mugs for the camera.
It’s possible to watch this film and enjoy it — I wasn’t in danger of turning it off to save my sanity at any point. But I don’t think it’s possible to enjoy it without a healthy awareness that you’re laughing at it as much as you’re laughing with it.