The ’80s genre film scene had been invaded by aliens. From sci-fi horror fare like the Alien franchise and The Thing to lighter family-friendly takes like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Batteries Not Included, aliens seemed to be hovering over movie theaters throughout the decade, and 1988 was no different. One of the more under-appreciated gems from the Class of ’88 was Richard Benjamin’s My Stepmother Is An Alien, starring Dan Aykroyd, Kim Basinger, Jon Lovitz, and Alyson Hannigan in her first major film role—a role that would lead to Hannigan meeting Seth Green for the very first time (a swoon-worthy trivia tidbit for Buffy geeks like myself).
But, back to aliens.
Basinger plays Celeste, a gorgeous extraterrestrial sent on a mission to Earth to find out the source of a radio wave that sent ripples throughout her home planet and disrupted its gravity. The source is, of course, Aykroyd’s Steven Mills, a widowed scientist who meets Celeste and immediately falls for her (I mean, hello—it’s Kim Basinger!). She’s aided by an alien device called “Bag” that houses a phallic alien being with one huge eyeball that sort of looks like a Madball toy. Bag helps Celeste woo Steven and acclimate to life on Earth, all while figuring out how to save her home planet of Cosine N to the 8th (yes, that’s the actual name).
Here are four reasons why My Stepmother Is An Alien is a lovable absurdity that’s worth a rewatch:
1) Celeste’s otherworldly party entrance
This is one alien who knows how to make an entrance. Not only does she serenade partygoers with the Popeye theme song and eat cigarette butts when offered hors d’oeuvres, but she rocks multiple back handsprings like an Olympic gymnast—talk about a party trick! Celeste arrives, wearing a cherry red dress that has a flying saucer-shaped headdress-hat hybrid with a matching skirt. If she didn’t already look out of this world, the dress barely kept her cover. Luckily for her, Steven is too smitten to realize what the hell is going on. She had him at “hello”—and by “hello,” I mean her incessant quoting of The Monkees’ greatest hits.
2) Celeste learning how to kiss will make your skin crawl
Shortly after Celeste and Steven meet, he asks permission to kiss her. With Bag assisting her with a screen behind them, Basinger and Aykroyd engage in the most awkward make out session ever put to film. She kisses him all over, bites him, slaps him in the face, and mimics animal mating rituals, all while Bag changes channels on a pop-up screen. It’s cringeworthy and unending, with Basinger selling the hell out of her character’s confusion and cluelessness. It’s farcical ’80s comedy at its best, and the two actors nail the physicality, penguin dancing and all.
3) All the feels of young Alyson and Seth
Nearly a decade later, Alyson Hannigan and Seth Green would co-star in Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Willow Rosenberg and Daniel “Oz” Osbourne, a novice Wiccan and newfound werewolf who fall deeply in love until Joss Whedon rained sadness all over them (as he’s known to do). Though they’ve worked together many times, Stepmother was their first appearance together, with Green portraying Fred Glass, a boy taking Hannigan’s Jessie to a school dance. Green was a mere 14 years old when Fred knocked on the Mills’ door, and his cocky character is both charming and sort of goofy… which pretty much sums up this entire movie.
4) Jon Lovitz being Jon Lovitz
In between roles in Big and Mr. Destiny, Lovitz played Ron, the brother of Steven, who expresses doubts about the rushed marriage between his sibling and Celeste. Ron dissuades his brother from marrying, thinking that Celeste is an illegal immigrant or planning some sort of sabotage, but later cops to a bout of jealousy. Lovitz's nasally voice and comedically smarmy presence make him the perfect sidekick for his fellow Saturday Night Live predecessor. Come for the alien, stay for Lovitz.
Though My Stepmother Is An Alien isn’t perfect, nor is it in the conversation of the greatest movies of its time, it’s still a family-friendly farce with an undeniable allure. Movie fans who grew up with the Mills family or those who simply cherish ’80s filmmaking can certainly appreciate Stepmother for what it is: an over-the-top comedy with a couple of beloved SNL vets and a lead actress who basks in the awkwardness of humanity. Add a deliciously cheesy score and you have a primo Class of 88 candidate on your hands.
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