We all have those relationships with certain actors that means we’re willing to put up with a lot of shit films. Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy both spring to mind as people I adore but who tend to star in absolute drivel. Now I’m sure I’ve discussed it numerous times over the years, but I have a deep love for Dan Aykroyd. Or at least Dan Aykroyd in the 80s. I’ve had a huge crush on Elwood Blues since I first watched Blues Brothers. I have an equally strong lust for Ray in Ghostbusters and, to a lesser extent, Ghostbusters II. I’m kind of over it by the start of the 90s. No offense but My Girl Dan does nothing for me. And don’t even get me started on Driving Miss Daisy. Still, I have enough of a love for the actor to have watched a lot of terrible films in my time. Yes, there have been plenty of good ones and some mediocre ones but he’s hardly had what you’d call a consistent career. Although there is one big flop from the 1980s that I’ve yet to see. My Stepmother is an Alien always seemed one step too far. I kind of felt that watching that would be putting the final nail into my coffin of obsession. Until I picked it out of my TBT jar. I guess there’s no going back.
My Stepmother is an Alien is a film that is almost entirely built on the premise that Kim Basinger is so pretty that she can get away with doing crazy things and still have men instantly fall in love with her. Although, to be fair, Basinger is a gifted comedic performer. She is pretty good when it comes to slapstick and is able to mould her body and face into any necessary shape. It’s just a huge shame that she’s called upon to use them in this travesty. The same travesty that uses 1980s Dan Aykroyd, coming to the end of his run of comedy success stories, in the role of straight man. The same travesty whose title suggests a pivotal role for Alyson Hannigan as Aykroyd’s 13-year-old daughter but, instead, pushes her to the sideline to become a whiny brat. I knew this film hadn’t been received well critically but I never quite let myself believe it would be this bad.
It’s not that the idea isn’t there because the film has a solid premise to build from. It starts in full Frankenstein territory when a physicist (Aykroyd) accidentally sends a message to a distant galaxy when his experiment goes out of control. This prompts an alien (Basinger) to descend to Earth in the hopes of convincing him to repeat his mistake in order to save her planet. Unfortunately, she ends up falling in love with the scientist and starts enjoying life as a human. She must eventually make the choice between returning home or staying with her new family.
Beyond that premise there is nothing really to excite about this film. The cast all do a decent enough job but the characters are all dismal and disappointing. They never really get any life behind them and are just expected to play out the obvious plot as best they can. Any potential for humour is lost thanks to the lack of skill in making this film. Jokes never land properly and moments that should be played for laughs are ignored. Instead, obviously unfunny moments are packed full of desperate one-liners that just never work. The humour is too obvious to be funny and there are far too many lost moments to ignore.
Everything just rushes along so quickly because the ending has been a forgone conclusion since you first read the title of the film. We just have to make it through each stage before we get to the ending. It’s a film that never quite moved beyond an interesting idea that was being tossed around. The script is bland, the narrative is dull, and the characters are all forgettable. It’s a testament to the main trio of Basinger, Aykroyd, and Hannigan that this film succeeds at all. If only they hadn’t been given quite so many ridiculous things to say. If it weren’t for the title reminding us, it would be easy to forget that Akyroyd and Hannigan are supposed to be related here because none of their interactions sound very like father and daughter.
This film isn’t even one of those ‘so bad it’s good’ kind of things. It’s just all bad. I mean not quite Mama Mia bad but 80s bad. It can’t even rely on a campy charm to pull it through. It just made me uncomfortable.
Who is Murdocal? A casual critic who is a little bit too obsessed with pop culture. A young woman who swears and rants much more than she knows she should whilst trying to make her way in an adult world she isn't prepared for. A not as recent as she'd like literature graduate who, between job applications and subsequent rejections, has turned to the internet to fight the boredom and review the shit out of everything.
"Maybe, just maybe, I'm the faller. Every family has someone who falls, who doesn't make the grade, who stumbles, who life trips up. Maybe I'm our faller."