Jimmy Durante by far is one of the best musicians to come out of America. In fact, every single time I hear him sing, it makes me think of at least one movie in particular: My Stepmother is an Alien.
Now, I know you are probably wondering “Why this connection?”
Have you ever had the feeling that you had some sort of connection to a film from your childhood that you just can’t seem to get away from? That one film that makes you think about your childhood and go “Yeah, that was a great moment.” As silly as this may be, for me that film was My Stepmother is an Alien.
The story goes like this: the first film that I ever saw by myself in the theaters just after sneaking out of school (sorry Mom) was this film. Granted the movie did come out in 1988, and I was still but a wee lass, the film was always being re-shown at the local dollar theater a few blocks away from where I went to summer school. (On a sidebar: Take you hats off to the Dollar Movie Theaters around the U.S.A. they work their butts off to give us cheap entertainmentâ€¦pause for a moment of silence and a sip of whatever you may be drinking.)
[ad#longpost]One afternoon, I was supposed to skip summer school with some friends, which of course for a goody-two-shoes like me was as exciting as smoking pot behind the gym in high school might have been for some of you. You know you did it, either there or made out with your high school sweetheart under the bleachers during lunch or gym class. Whatever. It was that exciting.
I had it all planned out. I would go to the library during my last class of the day, tell my mother I was going to a friend’s after school and not to worry about me since I was spending the night, which was true and it was a Friday. On Fridays, I was always able to get out of my last class, because the teacher loved me and I was the only student with an A. So, like every Friday, I finished my work, asked to leave and wandered off campus to meet my friends.
Of course, what my friends failed to tell me was that they had a test that Friday and would not be able to sneak out. Which is the equivalent of you showing up behind the gym or under the bleachers and the person with the marijuana or your high school sweetheart or whoever didn’t show up. Yeah, I was that angry too. The best part is that I didn’t find this out until later on that day after I was getting out of the movie while finishing my Peanut M&Ms and waiting for a ride. Impatient as I am, I went to the theater without them and laughed my ass off at Kim Basinger doing back flips after singing “I’m Popeye the sailor man.” Thus, the childhood memory was born.
So, My Stepmother is an Alien was not only a monumental moment in my childhood but it was the first time I was introduced to Jimmy and this music called “jazz.” That adorable scene where Kim Basinger is watching the scene from The Man Who Came to Dinner, and mimics Jimmy singing “Have you ever had the feeling that you wanted to stay, but still had the feeling that you wanted to go,” is priceless and I can’t get out of my head every time my iPod shuffles over to a Jimmy Song while I drive to work.
Thus, we have come full circle, from my childhood to My Stepmother is an Alien through the fond memories of Jimmy Durante.
Now, this film isn’t just some offshoot avenue for me to talk about myself and my childhood–it is a film that I am sure most of you go: “Yea, I remember that oneâ€¦,” to which you follow it up with some comment and then say something else about the 1980s in general. It is the same kind of comment or joke I am sure you make about the 1990s and Beverly Hills 90210 or Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter is Dead. Sometimes, the comment is about the penis-with an eyeball voiced by Ann Prentiss, who–let’s face it–should have done more voiceover work. Or we make a joke about Kim Basinger cooking too much, Jon Lovitz’ obsession with Princess Stephanie, or perhaps Dan Aykroyd‘s reaction to Basinger’s windblown seduction.
Yet, we forget about the other moments in the film that make it oh so good. For you Joss Whedon fans, how could you not notice that this is one of the first films that Seth Green and Alyson Hannigan go out on a date in? The irony of their witch-werewolf relationship in Buffy: the Vampire Slayer being juxtaposed with their “homecoming dance” like date in My Stepmother is an Alien is just too funny for words.
For you, yes you, who know the body of work of Joseph Maher, how could you forget about him being coned by “the bag” into giving Steven Mills (Aykroyd) his job back after he was fired for surging all the power in the building and inadvertently messing with the gravity on Celeste’s (Basinger) home-world…which is why she was on earth sleeping with Mills in the first place? Think about it people: it is Joseph Maher! He is the king of being duped in movies! Think about in all seriousness: he was Bishop O’Hara in Sister Act; he was Mr. Wellstone in The Out-of-Towners (1999); he was Father Tim in In and Out; and he was Michael Sinclair in Funny Farm.
If you aren’t convinced about watching this film for its outstanding cast and amazing quips and you honestly have a few things missing in your life: (1) a sense of humor (2) a sense of nostalgia and (3) a soul. Go watch it and laugh!
Directed by: Richard Benjamin (Mrs. Winterbourne, Milk Money, Made in America, Mermaids, Little Nikita, The Money Pit, and others)
Written by: Jerico (Matinee–which is one of the BEST John Goodman movies EVER!!) and Herschel Weingrod (Kindergarden Cop, Twins, Brewster’s Millions–which is one of Richard Pryor‘s best films, Pure Luck, and Trading Places)
Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Kim Basinger, Jon Lovitz, Joseph Maher, Seth Green, Alyson Hannigan, Tony Jay, Wesly Mann, Juliette Lewis, and more.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 105 minutes
Average Film Rating: 4.8 out of 10 stars
Bad B-Movie Rating: not listed on badbmovies.org
Bob-o-Meter Rating: My Eyes!!!… Why!?… Mehâ€¦ Goodâ€¦ Greatâ€¦Yes!â€¦ Badassâ€¦ Awesomeâ€¦ Holy Shit, Man!