Joyful, Mindless Abandon Entry: Earth Girls are Easy

Earth Girls are Easy is a fun, silly romp with the most subtle and sly of jokes. And it’s vaguely anarchic take on 80’s Valley Girl shtick is not an accident – -it was directed by Julian Temple, who’s documentaries are arguably who put The Sex Pistols on the map of the 70’s punk scene. Quite a weird pedigree for a movie with this much flamingo pink in it.

Way more fun than sunbathing usually is.

1988’s ‘Earth Girls are Easy’ is almost ridiculous in how much fun it is.

Beyond the goofy story, kitschy production design, random musical numbers and serendipitous casting, the movie seems less like a real thing and more like a modern teenager’s fever dream of what the ultimate ridiculous 80’s movie might be. It stars Geena Davis, Damon Wayans, Jim Carrey, and Julie Brown. It’s equal parts Barbie/Valley Girl vapidity, sci-fi satire, and romantic comedy.

Also, it has vintage Jeff Goldblum.

Fun Fact: Did you know Jeff Goldblum's torso makes a perfect equilateral triangle? I can do that math. Yes I can.

Jeff Goldblum is the male equivalent of the thing they do in movies where they take a hot girl and put glasses on her to make her dowdy. Put him in glasses and a jacket with elbow patches and you have a nerdly college professor who is still smoking hot. Put him in overalls and you have a hot farmer. Dress him in sweats and a ‘Han Shot First!’ tshirt with Cheeto stains and he’s still That Hot Guy who’s into World of Warcraft. The man’s hotness is unimpeachable.

Earth Girls are Easy begins with two furry aliens onboard their little ship, trying to get their version of Skinemax working. Jim Carrey, proving to the world that even a red fursuit can’t cramp his overacting style, plays Wiploc, and the more restrained and somewhat more charming Zeebo is played by Damon Wayans. Their captain, Mac, is snoozing in some kind of giant laser tube while his crew gets up to shenanigans.

Enter Val, the consummate Valley Girl, trying to entice her fiancee into a night of passion back on Earth–only to be rebuffed. Doctor Ted, World’s Biggest Shitheel, comes home ‘tired’ from work and goes right to sleep. What’s really going on is that Ted is just not that attracted to Val anymore, and is considering a ‘last fling’ with a coworker in order to spice things up before he marries her. Because, you know, if there’s one thing a troubled relationship needs, it’s infidelity.

Valerie, in an attempt to win back Ted’s affections, undergoes a makeover at the salon where she works, orchestrated by Julie Brown, an 80’s personality who co-wrote the film. The result has Val looking a bit like Pris from Blade Runner–owing more to Davis’s 6-foot-tall frame and bone structure than anything else.

It's all fun and games until the technology becomes self aware.

Seriously. Her legs go on longer than a Ken Burns documentary.

Anyway, it turns out Ted thought she would be out of the house and takes the opportunity to bring home his fling–with disastrous results. Val throws his ass out with nothing but his boxers and carkeys,  and performs a pretty boss little music video montage where she trashes his stuff.

Even for the 80’s, that was pretty 80’s-tastic.

Anyhoodle, the next day the aliens land in her pool, drawn to the Valley by images of hot girls doing aerobics. With Julie Brown’s help, she shaves and dyes them, making them look normal (if not distractingly hot). This might have been a fun place to reflect on the details of the change–if they don’t shave every day, do they get red, yellow or blue stubble? Was ALL their bodyhair affected? Are these questions I really want to know the answer to?

Although from another planet, their Asperger’s-like interactions with other Valley inhabitants go completely unnoticed, and Val’s explanation that they are a Finnish rock band placates the rare question. Hell, there’s not much people questioned then.

Every scene looks like it takes place in Pee-Wee's Playhouse. This is a good thing.

The humor of the movie is more clever than you’d expect: Davis was a gifted comedic actress, after all, and while the movie doesn’t make the most of her talents, her charm and mildly vapid gawkiness gives the film a necessary boost. And little nods to both the seediness of the local scene (especially Michael McKean’s past-his-prime surfer, Woody) and classic Sci-fi (an ice cream parlor in the background is ‘2001 Flavors,’ Val’s dream after sex with Mac has a small army of recognizable science fiction stalwarts, like Robby the Robot and fishbowl helmets. And much of the film’s best laughs are little throwaway moments: Val dismissing instant pudding as ‘too much work,’ or Goldblum ‘acting normal’ by pretending to shave with a stuffed animal in the background of a scene which is mostly between Val and Ted.

Earth Girls are Easy is a fun, silly romp with the most subtle and sly of jokes. And it’s vaguely anarchic take on 80’s Valley Girl shtick is not an accident – -it was directed by Julian Temple, who’s documentaries are arguably who put The Sex Pistols on the map of the 70’s punk scene. Quite a weird pedigree for a movie with this much flamingo pink in it.

Earth Girls are Easy is available on Instant Watch.

The Downward Spiral of the Predator

Consider the first act of Predator–an elite commando squad lands in the jungle and takes out a badass drug operation. Maybe not the most original set up, but it introduced you to these guys as they really are: supercompetent badasses who operate as a unit, and who literally laugh in the face of danger. This is the Schwarzeneggar of Commando, of the Terminator, of Conan. He wakes up to a big breakfast of explosions and fistfights, and sprinkles gratuitous violence into his coffee.

I haven’t seen the new Predator movie. I want to, and I might see it in the theater and I hope that it’s good, but today’s post is more about the Predator franchise in general, and what it means to me.

Here is a pic of the exact same poster I had on my wall when I was 13.

I want to believe some little boy out there had one of My Little Pony. Because we would be bestest friends EVAR.

Bitchin, eh?

In 5th grade, I had a few male friends who accepted and appreciated my status as tomboy.

In 6th grade, the game changed.

My middle school was  pretty crappy one, as schools went. Most of the kids were biding their time until they could drop out, and there were always stories on Monday morning about what illicit behavior people got up to over the weekend, especially stories about older brothers or sisters in gangs. I was one of few white kids, and what’s worse I was in regular classes because of my orchestra class. Yes, I played violin. I was just that cool.

I tried to make friends.  But the one nut I couldn’t crack was the Comic Book Kids. They were a group of kids who hung around at lunch talking comics, all attempting to recreate the drawings or make up their own characters. Because I could draw I would sit with them and just listen to their talk, but if I said anything I was immediately shut down for my lack of knowledge. Only one kid would talk to me, a kid named Jose who at age 13 made the work of Todd McFarlane look like the scrawlings of  a palsy victim. He was  a genius: his work had depth, he had an advanced knowledge of musculature, form, and he even knew how to block out a drawing before he started. Best of all, he was my friend and he’d actually talk to me about my drawings.

But he also started telling me about a movie one day, an incredibly awesome movie that he’d snuck into the theater with his brother to see: a movie called Predator.

I wasn’t about to tell him that I’d seen about .4 seconds of it, while I was walking through the living room and my parents were watching it, and I’d hurried to my room because they were watching a ‘grown-up’ movie. Or maybe I did tell him. However it happened, I wound up watching it one weekend, and absolutely fell in love.

When the second one came out in theaters I knew my parents wouldn’t let me go see it, so when I went up to visit my Aunt over the summer I totally rented that shit. It wasn’t quite as good as the first one–even at 13 I realized they had just amped everything up, and to see it now is to contain barely-restrained laughter at the profanity, the violence, everything. It’s so ludicrously over the top for an action movie it approached parody, even in the early 90’s.

I freaking love the first Predator, the second is like an alcoholic uncle I enjoy spending time with but ultimately wish I could save in some way, and the AVP movies are like cousins who should have been aborted in the womb and ruin every family gathering with their existence.

The first AVP was a decent effort, despite its PG-13 rating. I won’t lie, as a nerdy teenager it was my secret dream that a Predator would land and we would totally be BFF. He would teach me how to hunt and crush my enemies, and I would teach him how to play ‘Happy Birthday’ on the violin. It would have been a perfect life. So the whole woman working with a predator against the aliens was kind of neat.

AVP2 reminded me of an experience in real life I’d like to share. I went to the dentist after skipping cleanings for  few years, and learned something interesting: once you hit your late twenties, your gums recede away from the roots of your teeth, exposing more sensitive nerves. This explains why going regularly for cleanings is important–becuse when shit builts up at the base, on the roots,  scraping it off with a metal hook is incredibly painful. I almost blacked out the last time, and I have been a dental regular since. I remember my hands kept drifting up towards the woman’s arm and she had to push them back down, and it was NOT OF MY DOING. My body was rejecting the whole procedure and I wanted it to stop, but also knew it had to be done.

AVP2 was kind of like that. An experience that had once been familiar, even somewhat pleasant when I was younger, became an exercise in nightmare once I was an adult. I think I just demand too much–after all, the first Predator has a lot going for it for a ‘dumb action movie.’

Consider the first act of Predator–an elite commando squad lands in the jungle and takes out a badass drug operation. Maybe not the most original set up, but it introduced you to these guys as they really are: supercompetent badasses who operate as a unit, and who literally laugh in the face of danger.  This is the Schwarzeneggar of Commando, of the Terminator, of Conan. He wakes up to a big breakfast of explosions and fistfights, and sprinkles gratuitous violence into his coffee.

In the second act, when Shit Gets Weird, you see something that seems incredible: these men, these men torn from the thigh of Zeus and who came from On High to Beat Ass, are  . . . frightened.

Now, I am certainly not making the claim that the acting in Predator was unfairly snubbed when it came Oscar-Time. Lord no. But, when these men, these ridiculously overmuscled, walking testosterone doses of men act frightened, it feels earned. It feels like they have every goddamn right to be afraid–for one thing, they’re battling their worst enemy, a hunter stronger, faster, and more technologically advanced than they, who is doing this FOR FUN, and for another, they have been lied to by their government. This was a time in movies when that wasn’t taken for granted, when it wasn’t happening in every film that came out, so it doesn’t feel cheapened by oversaturation.

For another, you couldn’t have asked for better casting. You’ve got the big, muscular guys like Arnold, Carl Weathers (!!), Sonny Landham, and Bill Duke, who may lack bulk but makes up for it with one of the best death scenes in an action movie EVAR. Jesus, I almost forgot Jesse Ventura–there’s so much beefcake I FORGOT ONE. The concepts, like the biceps, are just too big.

Not Pictured: Estrogen

Then there are the littler guys, whose names escape me but who were awesome in their own right, with the jokes and the drama and whatnot.

My point with all this is that any Predator movie has some big goddamn shoes to fill.

It seems like in any pitch meeting for a Predator movie Jack Donaghy from 30Rock ought to pop in an ask ‘Are you ready to put on your Daddy’s shoes yet, boy?’ and any answer except ‘Yes sir, I wore them today, Sir’ will be met with bitter failure. So even though I don’t mean to, I have some pretty high expectations for any Predator movie.

AVP2 was such a bitter, bitter disappointment to me, and while I don’t read every Predator comic that comes out (I know their species name starts with  Y, but damned if I can remember it and I’m not looking it up) I do love the franchise and the world it inhabits. I don’t get why the movies are so lacking in quality lately, either; it’s not like the Predator is an actor who isn’t aging well and can’t do the stunts because of his bad back. IT’S A COSTUME. It requires a different actor each time! Although I do like the idea of a broken-down Predator with a potbelly and a 2k a day coke habit begging some studio exec for one more shot, one more bite at the apple. ‘Come on, Jimmy, you know I’m good for it, you know I can bring it! I’ll get clean, I’ll learn my lines, I’ll train with the same guy who brought Stallone back!’ George Burns was right, show business is  hideous bitch-goddess.

That said, the Predator itself is only the co-star of the movie. If the real stars of the movie don’t represent the humans and bring at least a little pathos to the table, then what the hell’s the point of rooting for them? Why did they bother in the first place?

Yes, we CAN all get long in the face of a hideous anthrophagic alien species! Why is this not on a poster in a classroom RIGHT NOW?