Coneheads (film)

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Coneheads
Coneheads Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySteve Barron
Screenplay byTom Davis
Dan Aykroyd
Bonnie Turner
Terry Turner
Based onConeheads sketches from Saturday Night Live
by Lorne Michaels
Produced byLorne Michaels
Starring
CinematographyFrancis Kenny
Edited byPaul Trejo
Music byDavid Newman
Production
companies
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • July 23, 1993 (1993-07-23)
Running time
87 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$30 million
Box office$21.3 million[2]

Coneheads is a 1993 American science-fiction comedy film from Paramount Pictures, produced by Lorne Michaels, directed by Steve Barron, and starring Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin and Michelle Burke. The film is based on the NBC Saturday Night Live comedy sketches about aliens stranded on Earth, who have Anglicized their Remulakian surname to "Conehead". Michelle Burke took over the role played by Laraine Newman on SNL. The film also features roles and cameos by actors and comedians from SNL and other television series of the time.

Three years after the release of Coneheads, screenwriters Bonnie & Terry Turner and star Jane Curtin revisited the premise of aliens arriving on Earth and assimilating into American society with the TV show 3rd Rock from the Sun, with Curtin instead playing a human character.

Plot[edit]

Upon discovering a UFO in American airspace, the National Guard sends fighter jets to investigate, who fire on the unresponsive craft and cause it to crash into the Atlantic Ocean, near Manhattan. The aliens from the planet Remulak aboard, Beldar Clorhone and his "genetomate" Prymaat, survive and quickly adapt to the human lifestyle, despite their conspicuous conical-shaped heads and metallic-sounding voices. Assigned by Highmaster Mintot to conquer Earth (a 'Protoid Re-fueling Station') as 'Fuel Survey Underlord of the Wilderness Planet at the end of the Noctolium Solar Chain', Beldar becomes an appliance repairman, and upon discovering his undocumented status, his boss Otto arranges for a false identity, which quickly alerts the INS. Meanwhile, after the couple discover from fellow Remulakian Marlax that a rescue vessel will not arrive for seven "Zurls" (many years), Prymaat informs Beldar she is pregnant. Ambitious INS agent Gorman Sneedling and his assistant Eli Turnbull unsuccessfully attempt to capture the couple.

Months later, Beldar has become a respected taxi driver, and the couple live in his boss, Khoudri's basement. After their daughter Connie's birth, they buy a home and move to suburban Paramus, New Jersey, adopting the surname Conehead, where Beldar begins another new career as a driving instructor. Meanwhile, Gorman gets a promotion and decides to leave the Coneheads' case to his replacement, but the case's extreme expense forces him to ensure its closure.

The now-teenaged Connie simply wants to fit in with her peers, though her father greatly objects, especially when she begins seeing auto mechanic Ronnie Bradford. This causes tension between Connie and Beldar, who strongly disapproves of Ronnie, even tearing the roof off of his car and threatening to kill him after he tries to make love with Connie, which irritates her. Despite this, Ronnie and Connie reconcile after talking. Meanwhile, Beldar is preoccupied with winning a golfing trophy at his country club, while Prymaat becomes concerned about his attractiveness to her due to one of his driving students, Gladys Johnson, flirting with him.

Gorman and Eli track the Coneheads to their home, posing as Jehovah's Witnesses to enter. During the conversation, Prymaat discovers their communication device to Remulak is beeping and notifies Beldar that 'the Big Phone' has contacted him, causing him to promptly eject the two. He is then told that their rescue vessel is approaching.

At a costume party that night, Beldar wins the golfing trophy. After Connie is told of their imminent rescue, she returns home with Ronnie, where she almost consummates their relationship using her parents' "senso-rings". Beldar and Prymaat discover them, just as the INS arrives to arrest the Coneheads. Ronnie helps stall the INS while the rescue vessel arrives just in time, and Gorman and Eli are taken aboard with the Coneheads.

On Remulak, Beldar is welcomed home, presenting the Highmaster with various Earthly 'gifts', including Gorman and Eli as slaves. Initially satisfied with Beldar's accomplishments, Mintot notices that Beldar's teeth are capped (something Otto had advised Beldar to do to blend in), accuses him of treason and sentences him to fight the ferocious Garthok ("knarfle the Garthok"), greatly distressing Prymaat.

After the Garthok easily and gruesomely kills other criminals sentenced to fight it, Beldar uses his Earthly golfing skills to save himself, killing the creature. Afterwards, he requests to return to Earth to oversee its conquest, taking Gorman back with him as a minion. Mintot agrees and hires Eli as his personal assistant, who quickly acclimates to his new role. Departing for Earth with Prymaat, Connie, and Gorman in tow, Beldar soon prioritizes Connie's feelings over planetary conquest by quickly faking an Earth attack, ordering his invasion force to retreat and proceed to their secondary target in another part of the galaxy, while making it look like a superior weapon has destroyed his spaceship. For rescuing him, Gorman agrees to give the Coneheads Green Cards due to Beldar's marketable talent.

Ronnie arrives to take Connie to the prom. Beldar gives him 55 words of advice, and then uses a massive flash bulb arrangement on his home-built Polaroid camera to document the happy event. As Connie and a now-sunburned Ronnie depart, he and Prymaat review the oversized photo, saying, "Ah, memories. We will enjoy them".

Cast[edit]

In addition to Jane Curtin appearing as a regular cast member, Jan Hooks, Phil Hartman, Julia Sweeney and Laraine Newman all made appearances on 3rd Rock from the Sun, which was created by Coneheads writers Bonnie & Terry Turner and featured a similar premise of aliens making efforts to assimilate into American society.

Production[edit]

Tom Davis, who created the characters on Saturday Night Live, wrote the first version of the screenplay. He was unhappy with choices made by the producers, including setting the Remulak scenes in a gladiators' arena, rather than the suburban environment that he envisioned.[3]

While there are some differences, Coneheads mostly follows the same plot as in the animated special that was created ten years earlier. Similarities include the Coneheads being stranded on Earth, Beldar working as an appliance repair man, and Connie dating an earthling named Ronnie.

The film mostly takes place in Paramus, New Jersey. Some scenes were filmed in New York City and the New Jersey towns of Jersey City and Wrightstown.

Reception[edit]

The film debuted at No. 6 on its opening weekend, while its domestic box office grossed $7,100,501.[4] By the end of its domestic theatrical run, the film had grossed $21,274,717.[2]

Coneheads received mostly negative reviews from critics. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a low score of 33%, based on 31 reviews with a consensus that reads, "Listless, crude, and overall uninspired, Coneheads offers further evidence that stretching an SNL sketch to feature length can be tougher than narfling a garthok."[5] Roger Ebert gave the film 1+12 stars out of 4, describing Coneheads as "dismal, dreary and fairly desperate" and the actors as unable to overcome an uninspired screenplay.[6] Janet Maslin of The New York Times said the film "has its dopey charms", and that it is suitable for people who found Wayne's World too demanding.[7]

The Los Angeles Times called it "an unusually companionable jape; in this world it makes perfect sense that the Coneheads' friends and neighbors never really register that there's anything terribly different about them. They're all-American eccentrics—even if they happen to come from the planet Remulak".[8]

Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "B+" on scale of A+ to F.[9]

The film received some critical re-evaluation during the 2010s, with multiple writers noting its satirical take on an immigrant family experience and immigration enforcement (meant as an exaggeration of Reagan-era politics) became eerily politically relevant following the September 11 attacks.[10][11]

Soundtrack[edit]

Coneheads: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedJuly 20, 1993 (1993-07-20)
Recorded1992–1993
GenreSoundtrack
Length43:27
LabelWarner Bros. Records
ProducerVarious Artists
Singles from Coneheads: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack
  1. "Soul to Squeeze"
    Released: August 19, 1993
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic link

The soundtrack for Coneheads was released on July 20, 1993 by Warner Bros. Records. It features the songs "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell, "It's a Free World, Baby" by R.E.M. and "Soul to Squeeze" by the band Red Hot Chili Peppers which would go on to reach 22 on the US Billboard Hot 100.[12] The album itself would peak at 162 on the US Billboard 200 chart.[13]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitlePerformed byLength
1."Magic Carpet Ride" (originally performed by Steppenwolf)Michael Monroe and Slash3:40
2."Tainted Love"Soft Cell2:42
3."No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" (originally performed by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer)Andy Bell and k.d. lang3:51
4."Kodachrome"Paul Simon3:30
5."Can't Take My Eyes Off You" (originally performed by Frankie Valli)Morten Harket3:43
6."It's a Free World, Baby"R.E.M.5:12
7."Soul to Squeeze"Red Hot Chili Peppers4:52
8."Fight the Power" (originally performed by Public Enemy)Barenaked Ladies4:05
9."Little Renee"Digable Planets3:22
10."Chale Jao"Babble4:10
11."Conehead Love featuring Beldar and Prymaat"Nan Schaefer, Bruce Gowdy, and Peter Aykroyd4:05
Total length:43:27

None of David Newman's score was included on the above album, but it was issued on a 2015 Intrada album paired with his scores for Talent for the Game and Itsy Bitsy Spider.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "CONEHEADS (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. Archived from the original on June 15, 2014. Retrieved June 15, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Coneheads at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Davis, Tom (2010). Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss: The Early Days of SNL from Someone Who Was There. Grove Atlantic. p. 222. ISBN 9781555849160.
  4. ^ Fox, David J. (July 27, 1993). "Weekend Box Office : 'Poetic' Finds Its Place in Line". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
  5. ^ "Coneheads (1993)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on November 11, 2012. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 23, 1993). "Coneheads". Chicago Sun Times. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
  7. ^ Maslin, Janet (July 23, 1993). "Review/Film; They're From Another Planet (Another Medium, Actually)". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 4, 2013. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
  8. ^ Rainer, Peter (July 23, 1993). "Movie Reviews : 'Coneheads': 1-Note Joke With Legs". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2020.
  9. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  10. ^ Bahr, Robin. "Does 'Coneheads' Actually Suck?". Vice. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  11. ^ Etheridge, Steve (June 24, 2011). "The Coneheads Prophesy: How a Kind of Crappy Movie Predicted the Future of America and Ripened Into Relevancy". Vulture. Retrieved January 12, 2020.
  12. ^ "Red Hot Chili Peppers - Chart history - Billboard". www.billboard.com. Archived from the original on November 24, 2015. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  13. ^ "Original Soundtrack Coneheads". AllMusic. Archived from the original on November 20, 2015. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  14. ^ "CONEHEADS / TALENT FOR THE GAME / THE ITSY BITSY SPIDER". store.intrada.com. Archived from the original on December 24, 2016. Retrieved December 24, 2016.

External links[edit]