Hidden Netflix Gems – Earth Girls Are Easy

Hidden Netflix Gems is a new feature designed to help readers answer that burning question, “What should I watch tonight?” It will be updated every Saturday before the sun goes down.

In an oddball blend of ’50s science fiction classics like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Day the Earth Stood Still, combined with much stronger elements of beach musicals and screwball comedy, director Julien Temple‘s Earth Girls Are Easy explores interplanetary sexual politics with a light and infectiously fun touch. This is one of those ’80s movies, much like The Lost Boys, that is objectively silly and perhaps unimportant to the history of cinema, but is nonetheless one of my favorite movies of all time.

Valerie (Geena Davis) is a sort of ditzy manicurist who works at beauty parlor in San Fernando Valley with her gloriously superficial and oversexed friend Candy (co-writer Julie Brown). After discovering her physician fiancée, Ted (Charles Rocket), attempting to cheat on her with a nurse he brings home, she kicks him out and wrecks most of his belongings in a musical montage of destruction and bittersweet flashbacks of the better times they spent together. Of all the film’s musical numbers, this is the weakest, but still great visual fun and prime ’80s nostalgia, as when Valerie shoves a box of Ted’s cigars into the VCR, or when she sends a bowling ball crashing into his Commodore 64 computer. As if her relationship troubles aren’t bad enough, the next morning a spaceship full of furry, horny aliens lands in her pool, and Valerie has to figure out how to keep them secret until they can fix their flooded ship and head back to their home planet.

The aliens are Mac (Jeff Goldblum), Zeebo (Damon Wayans) and Wiploc (Jim Carrey), and of course the solution to the problem of how to hide their alien identity is a makeover. Candy assists, removing the aliens’ colorful fur and revealing “three major cute guys” underneath. Valerie falls for Mac in particular, becoming enamored with his innocent, childlike ways, a result of the culture clash experienced by all three aliens, which is a major source of the film’s comedy. In perhaps the funniest scene in the movie, Zeebo and Wiploc, en route to a beach trip with Valerie’s aging surfer pool cleaner, Woody (Michael McKean), take his suggestion that they pick up “bread and junk” for sandwiches very literally. Brandishing a realistic toy gun accidentally stolen from a child earlier, they tell the frightened cashier, “Give us bread. We need junk.”

Though Earth Girls Are Easy could fairly be labeled predictable and certainly inconsequential, it has an undeniable charm, and only the severely humor-deficient will be unable to find something to like about it. For whatever reason, this movie is actually something of an addiction for me, a film I have to rewatch at least once a year or so in order to feel that all is right with the universe, to remind me that even with all the problems of the planet earth, at least its female humans don’t play too hard to get.

  

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Johnny Depp or John Cusack as Marty McFly? It could have happened…

With the release of “Back to the Future: The 25th Anniversary Trilogy” preparing to hit DVD and Blu-ray on October 26th, Bob Gale – co-writer and producer of the films – has been doing a lot of press, providing him not only with the opportunity to wax nostalgic but also the chance to dispel a few rumors, some of which are more ridiculous than others.

For instance, I can now confirm definitively that, despite what you may have read on Wikipedia, it seems very unlikely that Corey Hart, the man who made a career out of wearing his sunglasses at night, was ever really in the running to play Marty McFly.

“I don’t think so,” said Gale, chuckling. “I don’t have any memory of that. Somebody said that he was our first choice, but that’s insane. I don’t know where that one came from. C. Thomas Howell was the other finalist at the time. John Cusack was somebody we considered. Johnny Depp read for this, believe it or not. I don’t remember the screen test. I looked through the notes, and I said, ‘Geez, I don’t even remember that we read Johnny Depp!’ So whatever he did, it wasn’t all that memorable, I guess! And there was a kid called George Newbern who flew out from Chicago for an open casting call who was pretty good. I think he’s on some TV series now. I don’t remember what it is, but I remember him. But Corey Hart? Nope. Don’t think so.”

There have also been rumors that John Lithgow was in the running for the role of Doc Brown, but according to Gale, any such discussions didn’t get very far.

“That was just kind of in passing,” said Gale. “The only other guy we really seriously considered for Doc Brown was Jeff Goldblum. Jeff came in, and…I’m certain we talked about John Lithgow, but I don’t remember if he ever actually came in, or if we met him. But I vividly remember meeting Jeff and liking him.”

In regards to the long-unreleased Eric Stoltz footage that has finally emerged within one of the documentaries on the 25th anniversary set, one can’t help but notice that we never hear so much as a single line of dialogue uttered by Stoltz.

“It was Laurent Bouzereau, who directed and produced the documentaries, who really badgered us about putting that footage in,” said Gale. “So if you like seeing it, he’s the guy to give the credit to and the thanks to.”

“Look, we don’t bear any ill will to Eric at all,” Gale continued. “We don’t want to make him look bad. We don’t think this makes him look bad. We hope it doesn’t. We figured, ‘Let’s just soft-pedal it and not put a whole lot of that in there,’ because, you know, the story’s about how the movie got made, not about him. Maybe in the 35th or 45th anniversary edition, we’ll put the actual scenes in. We never destroyed that footage. We recognized at the time that there was historical significance to it, so the footage exists. But Eric’s a working actor. We don’t want him to have to answer questions about it…not unless he comes forward and says, ‘Hey, I wanted to talk about that!’”

  

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Another touchdown for “The Blind Side”

First of all, my apologies for the pedestrian football metaphor in my headline tonight, but all the good ones have already been taken. Add to that the fact that, with my knowledge of sports, you’re likely to end up with “‘The Blind Side‘ hits a grand slam'” or “‘The Blind Side’ scores a 3-pointer.”

Film-Review-The-Blind-Side__1258659813_7613

Be that as it may, the up-beat social issue/sports drama starring Sandra Bullock did indeed do extremely well this week. Taking a look at the Box Office Mojo chart, the $29 million film earned a very nice estimated $20.4 million for Warners and Alcon Entertainment in its second weekend and has so far earned a really terrific total amounting to roughly $129,264,00 so far.

As a comparison, my favorite movie of the year (that I’ve seen…I’m way, way behind), “Inglourious Basterds,” was considered quite the success. With a $70 million budget, after 16 weeks it has earned $120,467,000 for Harvey and Bob Weinstein. “2012” cost $200 million to make, a rather obscene sum that was unthinkable not so long ago, and in four weeks in wide release has earned a mere $148,787,000. I haven’t seen “The Blind Side,” but it just makes me happy that a modest movie about people is proving, I think, to be significantly more profitable than at least one pretty obviously bloated spectacle.

As for that other movie about teen vampires, werewolves, and waifs, B.O. Mojo’s Brandon Grey is here to tell us that “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” dropped another 63% this week. However, it’s opening week take was so stunning that meant it still took in a respectable estimated $15.7 million for Summit. It’s total domestic bankroll at this point is about $255.6 million and, as per Variety‘s Pamela McClintock, the worldwide total for “New Moon” is $570.1 so far. All that, with a budget of only about $50 million for a fantasy film. The “Twilight” films might not be seen by anyone as great cinema, but they are pretty awesome business.

Some bad guy in For you schadenfreude fanatics, Nikki Finke reminds us that both “The Blind Side” and the “Twilight” franchise were placed into turnaround by Fox and Paramount respectively. However, it’s always possible that those other studios would have found a way to mess up those pictures or their marketing, so who knows how things would have turned out with different studios?  In any case, no one wins all the time.

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A Chat with Lance Henriksen

In the midst of our discussion with Lance Henriksen, I unabashedly called him out for having carved himself a career as a “that guy” in Hollywood. You know what I mean. He was part of the supporting cast of the original “Terminator” flick, he played Bishop in two “Alien” movies (and even turned up in one of the “Aliens vs. Predator” films), and he played Frank Black…not the one who fronts the Pixies but, rather, the lead character in “Millennium.” And, yet, when I told people I was talking to Lance Henriksen, only a handful knew who I was talking about before I started numbering off the items on his resume…and as soon as I did, they immediately said, “Oh, right: that guy!” On a related note, if you’re a fan of “Screamers,” then you might already be aware that there’s a sequel to the flick – “Screamers: The Hunting” – that’s on video store shelves at this very moment, so when you see Mr. Henriksen’s name on the cover, try to remember this discussion, so you don’t have to wait until he appears on screen to say…well, you know.

Bullz-Eye was fortunate enough to score the opportunity to talk to Henriksen on the occasion of “Screamers: The Hunting” hitting video, and in addition to asking about his experiences on the film, we also did the requisite quizzing about his latest projects (did you catch him on “NCIS”?), his work on “Millennium” and the chances of seeing any new adventures of Frank Black, what it’s like to be under the direction of James Cameron, and how he came to appear in – of all things – a Brazilian soap opera.

Sit back and stay tuned for…

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