1 Hr., 40 Mins.
Earth Girls Are Easy April 21, 2020
liens invade Earth in the lively, soufflé-light musical-comedy “Earth Girls Are Easy” (1989). Luckily the ones seen in the film are neither akin to the diabolical colonizing types of TV’s “V” (1983) or the bloodthirsty beasts of the “Alien” (1979) franchise. The aliens of “Earth Girls Are Easy” are only seen in a trio, which is made up by Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans, and Jeff Goldblum. All are playing doltish. They
remind us of Bob Hope characters, if their respective Bob Hope character had a couple sections of his brain put through a juicer. These aliens are covered in primary-colored fur — textured like wiry Border Terriers — and roam around the outer limits in an orange and red spaceship that looks like a bloated hot dog. We should perhaps think of this triad the way we would pleasure-seeking college-aged straight dudes living in a house together on the fringes of their university. This is a bunch that prioritizes fun so much above everything else that we have to wonder when the last time they used their logic rather than their instincts was.
A little into “Earth Girls Are Easy,” the aliens, who have been talking in preceding interludes about how they’d love to come to Earth to have a good time with some of its young women, crash-land into the pool of Valerie (Geena Davis), a manicurist at the San Fernando Valley-based “Curl Up & Dye” salon. Valerie, like the aliens, is lovesick. She’s engaged to be married to a doctor, Ted (Charles Rocket). But Ted is bad news. The first time we meet him, he’s coming home late, fresh hickey on his neck, explaining unconvincingly to Valerie that things just got crazy at work. Valerie moans to her co-worker Candy (Julie Brown) that these days she and Ted so seldom have sex that they might as well be married.
Valerie has the good heart of someone who would leave food on the porch for stray pets. Perhaps further incensed by the discontent of her personal life, she decides to take in the aliens. Valerie first enlists Candy to give them makeovers (mostly their fur is shaved off, and suddenly and decisively the invaders look an awful lot like Carrey, Wayans, and Goldblum). Then she introduces them to the Valley’s nightlife. They learn to start acting less like aliens and more like Valley citizens the more they take in pop-culture ephemera in their off-hours.
It isn’t long before they’re capable of carrying on decipherable, though still silly, conversations with earthly inhabitants. The Wayans- and Carrey-portrayed aliens, Zeebo and Wiploc, are content scurrying off to find their own fun after a while. But Mac, who is played by Goldblum and who is the most “normal”-acting of the trio, takes a liking to Valerie — something predictably requited after not very long. (“An alien made me pregnant!” an open “National Enquirer”-style tabloid reads on Valerie’s kitchen table early in the movie.)
“Earth Girls Are Easy” has clearly been modeled by director Julien Temple after the films of John Waters. Though the film presumably takes place in the 1980s, what we see is a schlockified version of the late half of the decade, where one’s hair cannot simply be curly but where each strand of hair must be so tightly coiled you can almost hear it bounce, where one cannot merely don glasses but wear ones where the frames are five sizes too big and have a bright blue floral pattern, where neon is not an accent but the centerpiece around which all architecture must form. Visually the movie is dynamite — a pastelled feast for the eyes, a shabby-chic coloring book come to life. (One can see why the Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, who makes terrible music but who arguably has a very good eye, basically remade “Earth Girls Are Easy” in a 2015 music video.)
Eye candy aside, the movie in other places is less assured. It’s campy but not sharply so — it revels in its surreality so much that it forgets a lot of the time to make fun of itself as well; it’s absurdly funny but not absurd enough and not funny enough. The music and its accompanying sequences are so canned that when they appear, our memories are jogged — as if we’re remembering, after forgetting, that this is a movie musical as well as a romantic comedy. Still, “Earth Girls Are Easy” is so good-natured and pretty to look at that the wish that it were harder-edged can’t ruin the thing. B