Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)
Written by Julie Brown, Charlie Coffey, and Terrence E. McNally
Directed by Terrence E. McNally
When I was a kid, this film, in its edited for television version, seemed to play often on one of the local channels, which pretty much bought and played anything they could find to fill airtime. My memories are incredibly spotty, and I remember images of the furry aliens and their transformation into resembling people. I haven’t revisited it since those years, now; as an adult, I figured it could be a part of this series, and I was interested to see what I would get from it now. With 1980s nostalgia being at its peak in the last few years, you would think a movie like this would get more attention, but it still remains a very obscure picture, or at least not brought up in discussion in the internet corners I frequent.
Valerie (Geena Davis) is a valley girl working as a manicurist and set to marry Ted (Charles Rocket), her doctor boyfriend. She tries to get a makeover with help from her friend Candy (Julie Brown) but discovers Ted is cheating on her. Valerie is despondent and lounging by her pool the next day when a spaceship crashes. Inside are three technicolor furry aliens led by Mac (Jeff Goldblum). His two crewmates Wiploc (Jim Carrey) and Zeebo (Damon Wayans), saw broadcasts from Earth of gorgeous women and took the ship off course, causing the crash.
Valerie learns their ship is flooded because of the pool and calls in the pool guy to drain it, which will take a whole day. In the meantime, she takes the aliens to Candy, who shaves them and makes them over, revealing they resemble human men underneath. Valerie hopes to keep them in her house until their ship can leave the next day, but Candy wants to take them out to the Los Angeles party scene. While Zeebo and Wiploc become enamored with the women around them, Mac seems to sense Valerie’s heartbreak and wants to help her. But, Dr. Ted becomes suspicious of these sudden guests and wants to get to the bottom of things.
Earth Girls Are Easy is an enjoyable and silly excursion. It’s not trying to say anything too profound, but it still manages to be sincere and truly sweet in moments. At its core, this story is a pretty classic Hollywood farce plot. You have a woman looking for love, betrayed by her partner, and through a series of magical circumstances, she meets her soulmate. The music, revealing the film to partially be a vehicle for Julie Brown’s kitschy pop of the time, adds to the underlying sense of a classic Hollywood film from the 1930s & 40s. So, while some may see this as specifically an artifact of the 1980s, a broader survey of cinema shows it is just a piece in a long tradition.
I think Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum in the lead roles elevates the picture from being just a silly cult movie. At this time, they both were established as big actors, having starred in The Fly together a couple of years earlier. Davis was probably bigger than Goldblum at the time. The same year this came out, Davis was in The Accidental Tourist and Beetlejuice. Her star was certainly rising high. By the mid-1990s, Davis would star in a couple of flops, and it became clear she was falling out of the studios’ favor. I’d argue that it wouldn’t be until 1993’s Jurassic Park that Goldblum really broke through from being mostly a supporting player. The Fly and this film are definitely the exceptions in his filmography in the 1980s. They both give fantastic performances here, and you genuinely like Valerie and Mac.
I also don’t want to pass over how good Charles Rocket is as the sniveling Dr. Ted. He is certainly not the type of villain I expected in this movie. The script opts to make him a threat but ultimately comically toothless. He acts as the perfect obstacle in the story, giving us enough of a worry that the aliens might not make it back to their homeworld. But, we all know this is the type of movie with a happy ending and that Valerie and Mac will end up together. If you haven’t seen Earth Girls Are Easy and any of this sounds good to you, I highly recommend it. It’s a certain kind of movie we don’t get any more unless you actively seek them out. It’s the perfect tone and length and honestly zooms right by.
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