My Stepmother Is an Alien

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My Stepmother Is an Alien
My stepmother is an alien.jpg
Original film poster
Directed by Richard Benjamin
Produced by
Written by
Based on a screenplay by Jericho
Starring
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Richard H. Kline
Edited by Jacqueline Cambas
Production
company
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • December 9, 1988 (1988-12-09)
Running time
108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $26 million[1]
Box office $13.8 million[2]

My Stepmother Is an Alien is a 1988 American comic science fiction film directed by Richard Benjamin. The film stars Kim Basinger as Celeste, a extraterrestrial woman sent on a secret mission to Earth, after her home planet's gravity is mistakenly disrupted by Steven Mills (Dan Aykroyd), a widowed scientist raising his daughter Jessie (Alyson Hannigan) as a single father.

The film's screenplay was written by Herschel Weingrod, Timothy Harris and Jonathan Reynolds, based on an earlier script by Jericho Stone, who originally pitched the film to Paramount Pictures as a drama which would serve as an allegory about child abuse. When Paramount optioned the story, they suggested that it would be more believable as a comedy.[3][4] The film was unproduced for four years until Weintraub Entertainment Group put it into production in 1988.

My Stepmother Is an Alien was a box office failure, grossing $13.8 million against a $26 million budget. The film also received mixed reviews from critics, with the most negative responses panning the film's humor and screenplay. Basinger and costar Jon Lovitz generally received favorable reviews for their comedic performances. In the New York Times review, Aykroyd was singled out for criticism in his performance as a romantic lead.

Plot[edit]

Celeste (Kim Basinger) is an alien sent on a secret mission to Earth, and Steven Mills (Dan Aykroyd) is a widowed scientist who is working on different ways to send radio waves into deep space. Steven accidentally sends a radio wave out of the galaxy to Celeste's home world (Cosine N to the 8th) which causes a disruption of gravity on her planet. She is sent to investigate who could affect gravity and how it was done, believing that it was an attack. She is aided by an alien device (called Bag) resembling a tentacle with an eye, which hides in a designer purse to aid Celeste with her encounters on Earth. Bag is able to create any object, such as diamonds and designer dresses almost instantaneously. Celeste crashes a party hosted by Steven's brother Ron (Jon Lovitz), where she immediately draws attention to herself by making dated references to old TV shows and political slogans under the mistaken belief that it was current (her superiors had just collected the information, which had taken 92 years to get from Earth to her home world).

Celeste's inexperience almost results in her exposing herself as alien when she struggles with simple tasks like trying to kiss for the first time or cooking. She goes home with Steven and spends the night, after Bag teaches her what sex is (which she greatly enjoys). Jessie Mills (Alyson Hannigan), Steven's 13-year-old daughter, is at first happy that her father has found someone (her mother died five years previously) but becomes suspicious when she observes Celeste eating the acid out of batteries, and pulling hard boiled eggs out of boiling hot water with her bare hands. However, she cannot convince her smitten father that something is unusual about Celeste, and when Celeste tells him that she must leave in 24 hours he impulsively proposes, and she accepts. Ron also has his doubts about Celeste and tries to dissuade Steven from marrying Celeste on the idea she is an illegal immigrant or planning economic espionage, but then admits he is jealous his brother found his dream girl whereas he will never find a girl like Princess Stéphanie of Monaco.

Celeste encounters new experiences such as sneezing and love. When finally confronted about being an extraterrestrial by Jessie, Celeste admits her home world is without emotion. Celeste plans to depart once she discovers how Steven created the radio signal and gets him to recreate it (which she says will reverse the gravity problems on her world), but is put in a quandary by Jessie, who says it will devastate her father, for whom Celeste has now developed feelings. After Jessie argues with her dad, she runs away and is nearly hit by a car, but is saved by Celeste's powers. This reveals to Steven that Celeste is indeed an alien and that she has fallen in love with him and accepted Jessie as her own daughter.

Steven eventually realizes how he was able to create the radio wave and manages to repeat it, reversing the gravity on Celeste's planet and saving it. After destroying Bag (which tried to kill them), the leaders of Celeste's home world report in and ask her to destroy the planet Earth. She and Steven manage to convince them it was not an act of aggression, but an accident, and that Earth has many benefits that require further studying. They accept the explanation and demand that Celeste return to explain human culture to them, but settle for a native of Earth to serve as ambassador to their world as a token of goodwill. The ambassadorship is accepted by Ron, who departs for Celeste's world in a spaceship served by several flight attendants, all of whom look like Princess Stéphanie.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Screenwriter Jerico Stone developed the story under the working title They’re Coming as a drama, an allegory about child abuse. He pitched this version of the story to Paramount Pictures in 1981. Paramount agreed to option the story and paid him to write the screenplay, but felt it would be more believable as a comedy.[3][4] On June 20, 1984, Variety reported that Catalina Production Group was planning to start principal photography on They're Coming in late 1984 for Paramount, naming the screenwriters as Stone and Richard Benner; actresses considered for the lead by Paramount included Bette Midler, Julie Andrews and Raquel Welch.[4] Subsequently, the production moved to 20th Century Fox, who hired Herschel Weingrod and Timothy Harris to rewrite the screenplay. Fox considered Cybill Shepard and Joan Rivers for the part, but ultimately never produced the film, and it went into turnaround to Weintraub Entertainment Group, where the title was changed to Two Kids.[4]

Director Richard Benjamin read an unfinished version of the screenplay in the early 1980s, but did not become interested in the project until reading a completed draft he received via Weintraub in 1987, and agreed to direct.[4] By 1988, the screenplay had received further rewriting by Jonathan Reynolds. Stone was ultimately credited only for the story, under his first name, Jericho.[4] The film went into principal photography on 29 February 1988, as well as wrapped in May of that year; the total cost of production and marketing was reported as $26 million.[1][4]

Release[edit]

Although My Stepmother Is an Alien received mixed reviews, Kim Basinger (left) and Jon Lovitz (right) were praised for their performances in the film.

A July press release for the film stated that My Stepmother Is An Alien would be released on November 23, 1988, but it was later pushed to December 9.[4] The film premiered on December 3, 1988 in Washington, D.C., an event attended by stars Aykroyd and Basinger, as well as president George H.W. Bush, first lady Barbara Bush and vice president Dan Quayle.[4] Upon general release, Los Angeles City Mayor Tom Bradley declared December 9 “Stepmother Day,” to honor the “importance, dedication and contribution of stepmothers everywhere,” as well as an appreciation of the film shooting in Los Angeles.[4] The film opened at #7, grossing $2,066,980 in the opening weekend. It went on to gross $13,854,000 in the United States,[2] becoming a box office failure.[1]

Critical reviews[edit]

The film was met with mixed reviews.[4] Roger Ebert wrote, "Basinger gets most of the good comic moments in the movie and does with them what she can, but Benjamin and his writers seem to have run short of invention. Most of the plot developments are forgone conclusions, and most of the big set pieces (like a wedding) are handled routinely, without inspiration."[5] Janet Maslin, reviewing the film for The New York Times, panned the film's screenplay and humor, as well as the performance of Dan Aykroyd, who she felt was not only miscast as the film's romantic lead, but also unfunny. However, Maslin praised the performances of Kim Basinger and Jon Lovitz, whose character she categorized as a "scene-stealing sleazeball".[6]

In a generally favorable review, the LA Times criticized the film's sex humor, calling it "needlessly crass", but overall praised the film, writing, "My Stepmother Is an Alien is solid, wide-appeal holiday fare. It makes the best use of Aykroyd's warmth and proven talents in quite some time, and it does even more for Basinger, showing that she can be as funny and smart as she is sexy."[7] The Radio Times gave the film three out of five stars, writing, "Fine moments of inspired lunacy jostle with predictably slight comic relief, but Basinger's eager-to-please freshness and verve make this intergalactic muddle impossible to dislike."[8]

Variety called the film a "failed attempt to mix many of the film genres associated with the 'alien' idea into a sprightly romp.[9] TV Guide gave the film one star, calling it "A standard formula comedy [which] tries to emulate popular alien-on-Earth films like STARMAN. Had it actually been told from the perspective of the scientist's daughter, as the title suggests, it might have been more appealing, but instead a predictable, amateurish script shifts the focus elsewhere."[10] People said that director Richard Benjamin "tries to disguise the threadbare plot with explosions and special-effects hardware", and called the film "a clanking bore, except for Basinger—a potential star still waiting for the vehicle that will let her shine. Her comic talent glimmers in a scene where she learns what a kiss is".[11] Time Out wrote, "The film offers several entertaining sequences, [but My Stepmother Is an Alien] is marred by cruel and juvenile gags."[12] The film has a score of 19% on Rotten Tomatoes.[13]

Soundtrack[edit]

The soundtrack album was released by Polydor Records.

  1. Room to Move - Animotion (4:12)
  2. Not Just Another Girl - Ivan Neville (4:05)
  3. Be the One - Jackie Jackson (4:15)
  4. I Like the World - Cameo (6:11)
  5. One Good Lover - Siren (3:51)
  6. Hot Wives - Dan Aykroyd (2:53)
  7. Pump Up the Volume - M.A.R.R.S. (4:06)
  8. Enjoy - Alan Silvestri (2:54)
  9. The Klystron - Alan Silvestri (5:33)
  10. The Celeste - Alan Silvestri (4:56)
  11. Kiss - Art of Noise feat. Tom Jones (3:30)

References[edit]

External links[edit]