MESSED UP AND MUSICAL: Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)

In the 90’s, there were two Julie Browns on one channel. MTV. One was the wubba wubba wubba fashionista. The other was a wild redhead who sang songs like “Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun.” One guess which one we preferred?

Written by Brown (along with frequent collaborator Charlie Coffey and Terrence McNally) and directed by Julian Temple (a groundbreaking video director who also was in the chair for The Great Rock ‘n Roll Swindle with the Sex Pistols and Absolute Beginners), this movie was a troubled production, with over five months of post-production that led to several scenes and even an entire production number being removed. Due to the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group going out of business, the film went unscreened for over a year.

Three aliens — Mac (Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park), Zeebo (Damon Wayans, The Last Boy Scout) and Wiploc (Jim Carrey, Man in the Moon) notice a broadcast from Earth filled with aerobics and half-naked women. They follow the signal to Earth and the home of Valerie (Geena Davis, The Long Kiss Goodnight), a manicurist who has lost her fiance, Ted (Charles Rocket, who famously said fuck on Saturday Night Live in an era where that would ruin your career). The aliens crash land in Valerie’s pool and when she investigates, she smacks her head against the UFO.

Mac decides to miniaturize her and bring her inside the ship. Why is the ship miniaturized? I’ve wondered the answer to this question for decades. The aliens quickly assimilate Earth culture via TV and get a makeover from Valerie’s best friend Candy (Brown), then go to a nightclub where Mac and Valerie fall in love and Deebo has a long dance battle that defies any description that I can write

Valerie and Mac make love while Zeebo and Wiploc go to the beach with pool boy Woody (Michael McKean, This is Spinal Tap). Through some miscommunication, they end up robbing a convenience store and get arrested, along with Mac and Valerie, who have come to rescue them.

The aliens are taken to Ted’s hospital, where he learns that they are aliens. Valerie and Mac convince him that he’s gone insane and take everyone back to her house, where the aliens prepare to leave for their home planet. Thinking that Mac has picked his home planet over her, Valerie plans on marrying Ted in Las Vegas. Of course, she soon realizes the error of her ways and goes into space to be with her true love.

The soundtrack is rich with the music of the 80’s: Hall & Oates, Information Society, the B-52’s, Depeche Mode, the Jesus and Mary Chain and several songs by Brown, including “Brand New Girl,” “Earth Girls Are Easy” and “Cause I’m a Blonde.”

This is a movie packed with fun. It’s the kind of future that the 50’s thought that the 80’s would be. Throw in an appearance by the “patron saint of Los Angeles” Angelyne and you have a time capsule of the goofier side of MTV era pop culture.

BONUS: Frankenstein and Calamity Jane’s cars from Death Race 2000 and Robby the Robot make cameos in the film, as well as the lectroids from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension!

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