Thursday, August 2, 2018
Is That A Ray Gun in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?
This is my entry in the Rule Brittania Film Blogathon hosted by A Shroud of Thoughts
War of the Worlds and Independence Day posit an invasion by truly evil and intelligent aliens. The Day the Earth Stood Still and Close Encounters of the Third Kind presented benevolent aliens who come to Earth in peace and harmony. But in most alien movies, whether they are evil or good, the predominant characteristic of them is they have intelligence. After all, it takes some pretty smart species to create a vehicle that can travel the interstellar frontier to arrive to this little insignificant planet.
But what if some enterprising species had created a vehicle that Joe Average and his buddies could acquire and go on a jaunt? Any idiot on Earth can learn to drive a car (and trust me, most of them are driving on the same freeway I am). So why couldn't some shmo and his friends get one of these spaceships and take it on a joyride?
That seems to be the only explanation why the characters in this movie are in the vicinity of Earth. Mike Hodges, the director of Flash Gordon, a favorite of your humble blogger, as well as The Terminal Man, Get Carter and Pulp, was behind the helm for this movie which skewers how the public views fame as well as satirizes the then fairly new theme of benevolent aliens.
Morons from Outer Space (1985):
There are aliens and then there are these guys. A crew of 4 nitwits who somehow got a hold of a spaceship have a breakdown in outer space. The most intelligent of the crew (which is a stretch, since he only has four marbles compared to the rest of the crew who may have 3 marbles to share among them), Bernard (Mel Smith) tries to get the vehicle in operating power, but has very little success. So he takes off to the game room (essentially a trailer that the ship is dragging behind it.
Meanwhile, Desmond (Jimmy Nail) thinks he's the be all and end all mechanic and starts futzing with the spaceship. And somehow gets it going. Leaving Bernard behind, stranded in the game room/trailer. Dez, along with his wife, Sandra (Joanne Pearce) and Julian (Paul Bown) take off in a vehicle none of them have any idea how to control. They end up crash landing on a nearby planet, which just happens to be Earth.
Unable to control they ship, they end up on the M1 in England. Causing havoc with the normal human traffic. (Remember the idiots I encounter on the freeway when I drive? These guys are exactly like them.) One motorist, after crashing his car comments that the drivers in the spaceship "must have been Belgian".
Of course, after coming to a halt, both British and American soldiers descend upon the ship and the occupants are taken to a place where they can be questioned. The three are obviously imbrciles, but one gung-ho American officer insists it's all a put on and that they are the advance force of an invasion. He wants the trio killed forthwith.
Graham (Griff Rhys Jones), a flunky for a TV news station who just happens to be on the scene (while the top news-casting bigwigs are out of the office) rescues the trio. And soon the trio, rather than being executed for reasons of world security, become celebrities. The movie segues into a jaunt in which the three are musical stars (even though none of them can sing worth a flip). They gradually become the egocentric parody of big time rock stars. And they become internationally famous, with crowds of people straining to touch them wherever they go.
Meanwhile, Bernard (remember Bernard?) has managed to find another way to get to Earth. But since he didn't crash land in a huge spaceship (instead he just got ejected from a passing spaceship that had picked him up), he becomes just another loser on life's highway. Unable to get anybody to believe he is an alien (rather he is put in a mental institution at one point, because that's where all people who think they are space aliens are sent), he tries to figure out where he is and where his traveling companions are.
Since he ended up in rural United States, he has several things going against him. When he finally catches a broadcast showing the popularity of his three fellow aliens in England, he tries his best to get to them. Fortunately for him, since his position in the current society would not make it easy to get to England, the trio are due to do a one-night stand in New York. Reunion is imminent. But maybe, just maybe, his old friends don't want the intrusion of a newcomer.
This movie did not really fare well when released. According to wikipedia, it made a paltry $17,000 in the US, and only got back a third of it's budget in the UK. One reviewer in The Observer said it was "so unfunny I felt like crawling under my seat". I personally don't think it's a great comedy, but it does have some pretty funny moments.
In one scene, the three aliens and Graham are watching a live broadcast of a riot occurring right outside the apartment they are in, and one comments "Look! That man is going to throw something!" At which point a brick comes through the window and hits Graham in the head. "Looks like some sort of brick or something.." "That could be dangerous."
OK, so this isn't "Blazing Saddles", but it is rather funny. In a dry British sort of way.
Well folks, time to fire up the old Plymouth and head home. I hope the idiots I encounter on the freeway are only from this planet. Drive home safely, folks.