Morons from Outer Space

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Morons from Outer Space
Morons from Outer Space.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mike Hodges
Written by Griff Rhys Jones
Mel Smith
Starring Griff Rhys Jones
Mel Smith
Joanne Pearce
Jimmy Nail
James B. Sikking
Edited by Peter Boyle
Distributed by Thorn EMI
Universal Pictures
Release date
  • 29 March 1985 (1985-03-29)
Running time
91 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £5 million[1]
Box office £1.5 million (in UK)[1]

Morons from Outer Space is a 1985 British comedy-science fiction film directed by Mike Hodges and starring Griff Rhys Jones, Mel Smith, Joanne Pearce, Jimmy Nail and James B. Sikking.

Plot[edit]

The story begins on a small spaceship docking with a refueling station. On board are a group of four aliens called Bernard, Sandra, Desmond, and Julian. During a particularly tedious period of their stay at the station, the other three begin playing with the ship’s controls while Bernard is outside playing spaceball. They accidentally disconnect his part of the ship, leaving him stranded while they crash into a large blue planet close by (Earth).

The aliens become instant celebrities on arrival, despite being able to bring no great revelation or technical ability to the people of Earth (as is central to the plot of many "aliens on Earth" films). They find a manager (Jones) and become wealthy more or less overnight, packing fans in auditoriums just to see them. Meanwhile, Bernard arrives on Earth via other means of transport. Despite being by far the most intelligent of the group, Bernard is not afforded any celebrity, and is in fact condemned to vagrancy and a brief stint in a mental hospital before reuniting with his fellow travellers near the end of the film. The others, fearing that the introduction of Bernard would lessen their popularity and celebrity, fail to mention that they had originally been travelling with a fourth.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film was announced in November 1983. It was part of the initial slate of four films from Thorn EMI's new chairman, Verity Lambert, the others being Slayground, Dreamchild and Comfort and Joy. It was written by Mel Smith and Griffin Jones and directed by Mike Hodges.[2] Lambert offered the film to Mike Hodges who agreed if EMI would make a script of his, Mid-Atlantic and signed a two picture deal.[3][4]

In December 1984, Thorn EMI offered investors the chance to invest in several films by issuing £36& million worth of shares. The films were A Passage to India (1984), Illegal Aliens, Dreamchild, Wild Geese II and The Holcroft Covenant[5] Illegal Aliens later became entitled Morons from Outer Space.

The release of the film caused Mel Brooks to retitle a film he was working on from Planet Moron to Spaceballs.

Reception[edit]

Critical[edit]

The Observer called the film "so embarassingly unfunny I often felt like crawling under my seat."[6]

Mike Hodges disliked the film regarding it as a "misfire". He clashed with Smith and Jones in post production, an article claiming "they did not trust, or perhaps understand his comedic judgement or cinematic visual satire and the film became far more broad than he had intended." However he did enjoy satirising the sentimental “Spielbergian vision of the world”.[7]

Box Office[edit]

The film performed moderately at the box office in the UK and only earned $17,000 in the US.[8]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS and Betamax in 1986 and re-released in 1989.

It was released on DVD by MGM in 2001.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Alexander Walker, Icons in the Fire: The Rise and Fall of Practically Everyone in the British Film Industry 1984-2000, Orion Books, 2005 p35
  2. ^ EMI back with four feature films Fiddick, Peter. The Guardian 16 Nov 1983: 2.
  3. ^ Davies, Steven Paul (2014). Get Carter and Beyond: The Cinema of Mike Hodges. Pavilion Books. 
  4. ^ Cinema Verity: Peter Fiddick talks toEMI-Thorn 's new film production chief Fiddick, Peter. The Guardian 24 Nov 1983: 13.
  5. ^ Producer splits cost of films The Guardian 10 Jan 1985: 4.
  6. ^ Heat and rust French, Philip. The Observer 24 Mar 1985: 25
  7. ^ Spira, Jon (23 December 2014). "Why I Love Morons from Outer Space". BFI. 
  8. ^ These Movies Flopped at the Box Office; Now You Get to See Them on Videotape By Michael Cieply. Wall Street Journal27 Jan 1986: 1.

External links[edit]