Saturday night pizza and bad movie night. The pizza was good.
Four people on vacation in outer space are getting on each other’s nerves. It’s established early that none of them is in the running for Nobel prizes. While refueling the spaceship—which looks suspiciously like a battered rental RV— Bernard (Mel Smith), the only one whose dimmer switch is anywhere above the “off” position, goes outside for a round of spaceball. The others play with the ship’s controls (which, again, look suspiciously like those of a battered rental RV). Of course, they shoot out of the station uncontrollably and head for parts unknown, that is, a certain blue planet. Their only recourse is to send out a distress signal. Their ship crash lands on the M1 Motorway outside London, running several cars off the road in horrific explosions.
Bernard gets experience hitchhiking in space and lands in a “National Park” in Arizona, which doesn’t look at all like any place in Arizona I’ve ever seen. While Bernard tries to establish contact with trash cans, his three former friends are interrogated by British and American military about the secrets of the universe. Yeah, once more into the breach.
This is a little slow in the beginning and really, really, appallingly silly. There is a lot of cute satire and homages to other movies, including (surprise) Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but also The Caine Mutiny, Blade Runner, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and probably others that I missed.
I don’t mean to imply that this is packed with intellectual power—hardly. It’s just goofy. But it also pokes fun at the idea of celebrity. These three idiots become overnight sensations not because they’re anything special, but simply because they’re novel. They don’t look novel, however. They even speak English. And they are the epitome of vapid empty-headedness. The military scientists diagnose them as “brainless.” During a television interview, one of the aliens, Sandra Brock (Joanne Pearce), is asked what she read “at university.” Her one-word answer is “Shoes.” The audience eats it up. Pearce is a good enough actress to show surprise and odd delight at the audience’s reaction.
The best part of the movie, however, is the end. It is logical.
I understand that it’s not everyone’s kind of movie, but if you’re looking for a movie for Saturday pizza and bad movie night, this will fit the bill and provide a couple of chuckles.
Title: Morons from Outer Space (1985)
Directed by Mike Hodges
Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)
Griff Rhys Jones
Cast (in credits order)
Joanne Pearce … Sandra Brock
Jimmy Nail … Desmond Brock
Paul Bown … Julian Tope
James Sikking … Col. Raymond Laribee, CIA (as James B. Sikking)
Dinsdale Landen … Commander Grenville Matteson
Released: September 20, 1985