Saturday, March 22, 2014

Earth Girls Are Easy


The first stop on my new concert tour, Schenectady, is set for this coming Saturday night; I can hardly wait to unleash the whole Sink For Your Supper program on an unsuspecting public. My technical director and I had the most brilliant of brainstorms today. Rather than be static, the iceberg set piece will be built around a golf cart so it can travel the stage, giving the whole audience a fabulous view of me and my new iced tulle gown. I've made one last minute addition, the number, Normandie from Once Upon a Mattress . During the climactic cadenza, the berg will catch fire and roll over at its berth to increase the dramatic impact. It's going to be very exciting.

Unfortunately, Norman’s health will not permit him to join me on this gala occasion. The metal plate in his head is acting up again and he's been having little seizures all day. Currently, he seems to be picking up the police band. He'll be resting quietly and then sit bolt upright yelling 'There's a 211 in progress on Fairfax' and we can't quiet him down unless Nurse Tameka ladles more gin into him. I'm sending him in to see the Doctor tomorrow for a tune up. Perhaps he can be adjusted to receive HBO and reduce the cable bill.

As I am in show production mode, I felt the need to again ensconce myself with a classic musical and my eye alighted on Julien Temple's 1989 campfest Earth Girls are Easy in which an outlandish plot and a bunch of Julie Brown songs are cobbled together with theatrical panache to create a strange, but somehow satisfying confection. For those who have not heard of her, Julie Brown, who co-stars in the film, is a singer/songwriter of the 80s known for such weird and wonderful satirical opuses as 'Cause I'm a Blonde The Home Coming Queen's Got a Gun and I Like 'Em Big and Stupid , many of which turn up in the film. Her other major contribution to pop culture was Medusa: Dare to be Truthful , a hilariously spot on parody of Madonna and her Truth or Dare documentary.

Earth Girls are Easy is the title (and plot) of another one of Miss Brown’s songs. The film borrows the song's broad outlines, although, for unexplainable reasons, the song itself makes no appearance in the completed film. Valerie (Geena Davis), a bubble headed manicurist in the San Fernando Valley, is sunning by the pool one day when a spaceship crewed by three crayola colored furry aliens (Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey, and Damon Wayans) crash lands in the water. As it will take a day for Woody (Michael McKean), her surfer dude pool man to drain the pool, she has to make the aliens presentable. She takes them to the local beauty parlor where her friend Candy (Julie Brown) clips the aliens into studly guys. Soon, Valerie, Candy and the guys are out on the town and, as Valerie is having problems with her cheating boyfriend (Charles Rocket), she falls for Jeff Goldblum and his love touch. There's more plot and complications but it really isn't terribly important - it's just an excuse for the cast to get goofy, do musical numbers for no special reason, and for Julien Temple to throw in a whole lot of Technicolor high concept visuals.

Geena Davis is endearing as Valerie; she uses her height and general gawkiness to great advantage and gets a wonderful scene where she methodically destroys her boyfriend's possessions while singing a torch song. Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans show the physical comedy qualities that would shortly make them stars. Carrey, especially, is quite winning as a blond surfer alien who picks up dating tips from TV commercials. Julie Brown isn't really an actress - she's Julie Brown doing her numbers and she does them well, especially ’Cause I'm a Blonde . Jeff Goldblum is the weak link. He's supposed to be smolderingly sexy and have animal magnetism to spare but comes off as a shoe salesman in one of Liberace's old smoking jackets.

Julien Temple's wonderfully weird visuals are the true star of the film. They range from the cotton candy hair dos (and hair don'ts) on little old ladies to the bizarre primary colored deco of the spaceship to a cameo by LA's one and only Angelyne in a pink corvette. They carry the film through all the saggy moments, incomplete jokes, script holes and other problems that would sink a less in your face director. Temple takes his visual style from MTV via the 50s Technicolor melodramas of Douglas Sirk. It’s a little off putting unless you unplug your brain and go along for the ride. Temple never had much success in this country but without his visual style, there could have been no Baz Luhrmann.

Bikini wax. Strange wigs. Dancing beauticians. Dishwasher detergent eating. Car stuck in donut. Gratuitous oral sex jokes. Doctor in underwear. Gay cops. Double heart beats. Gratuitous Larry Linville.

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