02 May 2011


Twelve Things about My Stepmother Is an Alien

12. When you have a movie with a title like My Stepmother is an Alien, you reasonably assume that it's a slightly wacky comedy for the whole family--or at least Dad, Mom and the teenage kids. It certainly seems to have the right mix of elements: aliens for the kids, screwball romance for Mom, Kim Basinger eye-candy for Dad, and even a sweet-looking dog on the poster.

I wonder how many upset parents walked their offspring out of the cinema when they learned the truth about what this movie actually is.

11. You see, the filmmakers weren't really interested in producing a family-friendly popcorn flick or even a RomCom with some (slightly stultifying) SF elements. Their actual ambition was to make a sneaky contribution to the world of puerile adult entertainment.

And if you don't believe me, the first minute or two of Basinger's screen time ought to convince you. Through a series of close-ups, we watch her slowly slide a stocking up her silky leg, sexily toss her mane of long blonde hair, and purse the lips she has just painted a bright, matte red. She is objectified to the hilt: some perv's puerile adult's alien fantasy.

(Wow. Suddenly those Ancient Astronaut Theorists aren't so bad after all. LOL!)

10. Having said all that--which made me really sad because this movie has some beautifully cheesy moments--I think it's worth celebrating the very best thing about it . . .

The use of Tom Jones' cover of Kiss in the opening credits!!!

And if you think that is cheesy dancing,
then you should have seen me when the music came on.
(Yeah, I have no shame.)

9. Sadly, it was all downhill from there . . . And the main reason for that is that Basinger just isn't funny. =(

8. Dan Aykroyd, on the other hand, is perfectly at home in this post-Ghostbusters role of another adorable science geek.

Steve Mills is, at bottom, a sweet character: both highly intelligent and kind of goofy--"a dreamer," as Celeste the alien says. (An absent-minded scientist type, his far more efficient daughter might add.) He's also a romantic who is willing to hold out for the perfect woman years after the death of his beloved wife. And he honestly believes he has found her in the the drop-dead gorgeous stranger who understands his work, can make him laugh, and seems to find him attractive enough to sleep with the very first night they meet--which is why he proposes the very next day.

7. Yes, it's a completely implausible scenario, as any real-life Steve Mills could tell you, with even less of a chance of happening than an actual alien invasion. (Oh, now I get it. LOL!) But it is a geek's romantic dream; and I think that if they played it up as sweet rather than sleazy, it would have been fantastic.

You see, Celeste might be perfectly beautiful, but she's also extremely weird. And the fact that Steve can notice all that and take it all in stride could have--had it been handled differently--tapped into that other romantic dream of many a less-than-perfect woman, that somewhere in the wide universe is a man who will fall in love with her, quirks and all.

6. The real star of this whole movie is Alyson Hannigan, who plays the teenage daughter. I'm sure that anyone who watched this when it first came out (and didn't walk out of the cinema in disgust at the sleazy parts) is not surprised that Hannigan has grown up to be a versatile, busy, and very popular actress. (No comment on the strange character arc of Jessie Mills.)

5. I must have seen this movie as a child, because I have clear memories of many of the clips compiled in this video . . .

And that crazy breakfast scene was my absolute favourite part! (What? Don't you wake up ravenous in the mornings?)

Watching these scenes frustrates me all over again. Hannigan wins more viewer sympathy than either Aykroyd or Basinger; this really should have been a kid's movie. (I mean, read that title again!) It is Jessie who holds the crazy breakfast scene together. And Hannigan as Jessie could have held the entire freaking movie together, had the script demanded it of her.

4. Admittedly, had they made this a kid's movie, we wouldn't have that geek-meets-freak RomCom-SF hybrid that I also just analysed for you. But given that the former premise was what had so much puerile adult entertainment potential in the first place and that Aykroyd and Basinger don't actually have any chemistry together (If you don't believe me, see why I didn't even want to embed their first kiss) . . . well, the other premise of Kid's Movie Starring Alyson Hannigan wins.

3. Fellow Buffy fans already know this, but it's always worth pointing out that this movie gives us "Willow and Oz's first date"! =P



I was not happy at all when Oz left the show.

2. But you know whom they could have cut out all together? Steve's sleazy-ass brother. While the movie became pretty much irredeemable after Celeste's handbag started instructing her on the basics of sex (and getting it all wrong, of course), it didn't actually die until Ron Mills got to fulfill his own puerile adult entertainment fantasy becoming an object of fascination, attraction, and possibly even lust to a whole harem planet of women who normally would be totally out of his league.

(And now we know who the real "Stu" is! Totally gross!)

1. "May is for Mothers" Analysis: I sat on this post for a couple of days because I wanted to save it for May--although it's hardly the best way to kick off a month meant to celebrate mothers in novels and film, is it? =P I really wish the filmmakers had stayed true to the title, making the beloved Alien Stepmother the 80s' twist on the archetypal Wicked Stepmother. I'm sure a lot of real-life stepmothers feel like aliens in their new homes. This movie could have been an affectionate satire of that, assuring us that even people from different worlds can live together in love, and been so much better than it is. 

Image Sources: a) My Stepmother Is an Alien poster, b) Alyson Hannigan and Seth Green in 1987, c) Alyson Hannigan and Seth Green in 1997


Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Excellent analysis of this movie. I'd forgotten all about it. Not one of Basinger's best, for sure. Ha! And that breakfast scene was insane. The pancakes look good, though.

Enbrethiliel said...


Hey, Carol! =D It's great to see you again! Watching that breakfast scene always makes me hungry. I'd love to be Jessie's friend so I could come over and eat three or four days a week. =P

Lesa said...

I saw this in the theatre when it came out and do remember being put off by the sleazy parts. You are right the filmmakers really dropped the ball on this one.

Enbrethiliel said...


I guess they thought the ridiculousness would overpower the sleaziness. What a fail that was, aye? =(

Kate said...

Yeah, I'm hungry after that scene. Though I have to admit the line "I'm Dutch. Have you ever seen a dirty street in The Hague?" made me laugh for reasons I can't identify.

Also: Willow and Oz's first date...win!

Enbrethiliel said...


LOL! I don't remember randomly laughing at any line in this movie--at least none of Basinger's--so I'll say you got more out of it than I did. =P