It’s Time for a Makeover

Earth Girls Are Easy

So here we have a movie that, let’s be honest, works better as a concept than a movie. The pitch is for a throwback to the 1950s sci-fi films of old, but as a more raunchy comedy, and also with singing and dancing. It’s a film that feels like it could have only come out in the 1980s, even parodying its own decade as it exists within it. Yet it also feels like that throwback to the bygone era, playing with the expectations of aliens and others from the 1950s. It has a lot going on, with a whole bunch of ideas and actors all thrown into the mix together, all to create a film that, well, doesn’t really nail anything it’s going for.

But it does have heart (two of them, in fact, if we want to make a joke about the film). The film is silly, and dopey, and not very good, but it also does all of it with endearing charm. The movie was clearly a labor of love, a passion project for the crew, funneled into life by director Julien Temple (a documentary and music video director) and co-writer Julie Brown (Bloody Birthday, Police Academy 2), all to create something over-the-top and silly. They did that, but it’s hard to say they actually made a successful film.

The movie focuses on Valerie Gail (Geena Davis), a beautician who is soon to marry Dr. Ted Gallager (Charles Rocket). Ted, though, can’t really keep his little member in his pants, and, behind Valerie’s back, continues to date nurses and other women all while not showing up in the bedroom to suit Valerie’s needs. She decides to spice things up and, instead of going on a trip out of town, gets all dolled up for a night of romance. Ted comes home with another woman, though, and, catching him in the act, Valerie kicks him out, ending the engagement.

The very next day, as Valerie is by her pool, lamenting the end of her relationship (and trying to decide if she should take Ted back), a spaceship crashes into her pool. Inside are three aliens: Mac (Jeff Goldblum), Wiploc (Jim Carrey), and Zeebo (Damon Wayans). Since they’ve landed in her pool, the pool has to be drained so the ship can dry out and the guys can get back up in the air. Stuck on Earth for a couple of days, Valerie takes them to her shop where, along with best friend Candy (Julie Brown), they clean the aliens up to reveal three hunky dudes. Now it’s time for a night on the town, and fun for all, as Valerie has to decide between Doctor Love and the Man from Outer Space.

Earth Girls Are Easy is a patch of silly fun. The movie has a good time playing around with its concept, letting the aliens be weird while musical numbers happen at weird times. The film gets by on its shaggy energy, never letting a scene go by without something new and silly happening. Any time something comes along that seems to drag the movie down, you can bet the next scene will change things up and give us something different and silly to focus on. It’s a film of, “and then this happens,” over and over no matter where that takes the movie.

That energy is fun, but it doesn’t lead to a cohesive film. The big issue with Earth Girls are Easy is that there really isn’t a lot of story to carry the film. It functions more as a collection of skits, musical numbers, and scenes than any kind of real film. The whole story of the movie, a broken-hearted woman finds aliens in her pool and has to help them get back into space, is a plotline literally resolved by sitting around for a day. Anything else that happens is pure randomness and happenstance. There’s no story to this story.

The main draw of the film was the pairing of Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum. This was their third movie together, after Transylvania 6-500 and The Fly, and the two clearly have solid on-screen chemistry together. Unfortunately, anyone hoping for the kind of passionate romance or deep emotion that was found in The Fly (let alone the sci-fi body horror) wouldn’t find any of that in this light-hearted, cotton-candy confection of a film. The chemistry between the two actors is palpable here, and is the only reason the pairing of Valerie and Mac works on screen at all. Unfortunately, the characters are as threadbare as the story, leaving little to get invested in.

The best character of the film is Valerie, and that comes by grace of the fact that she’s in almost every scene so she gets the most to do. Davis clearly has fun playing the bubbly airhead, turning Valerie Gale into quite the Valley Girl. At the same time, though, there isn’t a lot to Valerie. Most of her story is taken up by trying to decide if she should forgive Ted or not. Mac is presented as an alternate love option for her, but it’s hard to say they have much of a connection. They barely talk at all, and what conversations they do have are brief and stilted. Again, it’s the on-screen chemistry (and the off-screen relationship) between the two actors that sells their connection, not the film itself.

Mac, Zeebo, and Wiploc are empty characters. We never get to know anything about them beyond the fact they’re hot (once they’re shaved and given street clothes) and horny. Wiploc and Zeebo are basically the same character, except one is black under the fur. They do everything together, chase women together, and get into trouble together, but they aren’t really characters. Mac is their captain and, well, that’s about the only difference between him and them. For creatures that should be the focal point of the movie, there’s absolutely nothing to these guys beyond the actors playing them.

It’s hard to say how, exactly, you fix a movie like this. You don’t want to get rid of the day-glow, dopey charm, but at the same time you need the film to invest more fully in the characters and what they’re doing. Giving Zeebo and Wiploc distinct personalities would be a good first step, and actually fleshing out the aliens (what they’re doing in space, why they were flying by Earth, what their home planet is like) would be a good first step. Valerie had to decide between a doctor and aliens, so it would be nice to consider the aliens as a viable option for her life.

And then, of course, actually making her choice interesting and difficult would also be good. She needs to learn more about what Ted does behind her back. She needs to have the full story of the aliens. She needs to be able to make an informed decision on her own so that, when she chooses Mac (spoiler) it actually feels earned. The film has a great time with Valerie and the aliens but it’s all shallow and vapid. More investment could make the kooky silliness actually land with more heart and be more enjoyable.

I don’t think Earth Girls Are Easy is a film beyond saving, but it’s also not very good. It’s a 1980s bit of trifle that is fun in the moment but becomes completely forgettable the second the credits roll. A better, strong story with lived-in characters could have turned this into the kind of wacky comedy people come back to again and again. Instead, it only lives on because it was cheap for channels to buy up and air on basic cable, so that’s how everyone discovered it. It’s a failure of a film that easily could have been so much more.