Julien Temple flushes Earth Girls Are Easy with self-aware kitsch which keeps the film afloat when the cheesecloth thin story begins to drag. For what is essentially an 80s version of Mars Needs Women, Earth Girls Are Easy has a neon aesthetic and its tongue firmly implanted in its cheek. Oh, and it’s also a musical.
Its E.T. meets Screwballs. Three aliens—Wiploc (Jim Carrey), Zeebo (Damon Wayans), and Mac (Jeff Goldblum)—crash-land in Valerie’s (Geena Davis) backyard pool. Wacky shenanigans and misunderstandings ensue. Yet underneath all that is a delightfully nutty comedy about a woman grappling with how her sexual needs are being ignored by her fiancé, Ted (Charles Rocket).
Sex comedies are hardly new, but most contain the qualifier “teenage.” Adult comedies tend to highlight romance but ignore sex, save for a scene or two. Earth Girls Are Easy, however, isn’t shy about Val’s “horny on main” attitude nor does it begrudge her desires. So often, sex comedies tend to focus on the loss of virginity as some kind of sacred rite. Temple and his trio of screenwriters Terrence E. McNally, Charles Coffey, and Julie Brown, however, recognize sexual desire is merely a part of being human and that most of us take it entirely too seriously.
But Earth Girls Are Easy never veers into exploitation territory. Val wants sex, Ted is a cheating douche bag, and the trio of Aliens are horndogs who may or may not be the best representation of their species. So often, extraterrestrials in movies tend to be highly advanced species with an evolved understanding of technology and co-existence. But McNally, Coffey, and Brown suggest that aliens could be every bit as boorish and gutter-brained as we are.
Carrey’s Wiploc and Wayans’s Zeebo are Three Stooges shoved into a blender. Their bodies sway to and fro, like Looney Tunes characters. Goldblum’s Mac is much more debonair, but all three speak broken English gleaned from Val’s television. “We are MTV scum,” Wiploc yells out a car window.
Earth Girls Are Easy is a silly film with a silly premise but it has a sly wit about it. “These are low-cal pop tarts. They’re all-natural.” It knows what it is, as evidenced by Mac’s realization that Val might be stressed out: “Are we limp and hard to manage?”
Oliver Stapelton’s camera and Temple’s visual eye take more from the likes of The Little Shop of Horrors than classical musicals. Stapelton’s camera follows Val around the house, like a handheld punk rock documentary as she sings “The Ground You Walk On ” destroying every artifact that reminds her of Ted, her ex-fiancé.
Yet, later on, while at a club with Val’s friend Candy (Julie Brown), Zeebo finds himself in a dance-off. Stapelton’s camera finds energy and rhythm which makes the scene infectious and fun. Like the rest of the movie, it barrels on heedless of what anyone might think. It’s part of the movie’s charm.
Big-name cast aside, Brown is a highlight of the movie. Which is saying something for a movie that also boasts Micahel McKean and Los Angeles’s own Angelyne. Considering the manic energy of Carrey and Wayans, the fact that Brown is able to stand out speaks for itself.
Her infectious charm and presence balance out against Davis’s Val. The friend who goes from terrified of the hairy beasts to giving them makeovers and wondering if Earthlings and aliens are compatible. A fact that Val becomes interested in as well.
Earth Girls Are Easy is an odd musical if only because it doesn’t follow the usual rhythms and beats of a musical. At times it feels as if the movie has forgotten it’s a musical only to remind us as it dives headfirst into a musical number. Songs like “Cause I’m Blonde” are flirty and filled with innuendo and wry wit as Brown prances about, extolling the virtues of her Valley Girl aesthetic.
Rarely do movies have women characters care about getting laid as much as Earth Girls Are Easy. As much as Wiploc and Zeebo act like fools whenever anything with legs walks past them, Temple and the writers frame Val’s desire for sexual satisfaction as the only one worth focusing on. The irony is by the end of the movie Val is the only one who has any sex.
The sex scene between Val and Mac is hardly erotic, as Temple and Stapelton opt to frame the experience as surreal as opposed to erotic. Considering Mac is a shaved alien with two hearts played by Jeff Goldblum, it would be anti-climactic if their coitus was so banal as to be titillating.
Davis and Goldblum, who were married at the time, have better chemistry than most couples in these types of movies. Not to mention Stapelton’s camera doesn’t shy away from the sexuality of its stars. The camera lingers on Goldblum as he arches his eyebrow and you can practically hear both the camera operator and Davis whimper.
Earth Girls Are Easy is fluff, but it’s imaginative, delightful, and unapologetic for its existence. The goofy sincerity which bubbles throughout the film keeps anything from being taken too seriously. It somehow manages to be unabashedly horny without ever being cringeworthy or misogynistic. This alone would make it a rarity, but toss in its innate silliness and how it’s a fun breezy time, and you have yourself a rare gem.
Image courtesy of Vestron Pictures