'90s Movie Month! "Coneheads" Review
on 2013-08-07 14:55
'90s Movie Month! "Coneheads" Review
-- Rating: PG (comic nudity and some double entendre humor)
Length: 88 minutes
Release Date: July 23, 1993
Directed by: Steve Barron
When aliens from outer space go in search of mankind in the movies, it is often to dominate humans or to steal the planet's resources. Beldar (Dan Aykroyd) and Prymatt Conehead (Jane Curtin) are no exception to this rule, as they take off in a spaceship from Remulak to Earth in the hope of conquering humankind. Unfortunately, their ship crashes in the East River in New York City, completely derailing their carefully laid plans. They decide to try blending in with the locals until help arrives, setting up the premise for "Coneheads."
Beldar and Prymatt adopt the human names Donald R. and Mary Margaret DeCicco to fit in with their new neighbors. Unfortunately, they have obviously cone-shaped heads and speak in inhuman monotones, often using words that are too complicated for those around them to understand. They also consume mass quantities for sustenance. While this would be fine if it was just food, toilet paper, house insulation, and other items that would be poisonous to humans are good eats to the Coneheads. They spend huge swaths of time trying to hide their odd habits from neighbors, explaining that they are from France, where customs are different.
Years pass and no ship comes to rescue the stranded alien family, which now includes daughter Connie (Michelle Burke). Connie was born on Earth and loves humans, even taking an interest in local mechanic Ronnie (Chris Farley), much to her parents' chagrin. She doesn't share their love for Remulak, so when the chance to return to the motherland arises, she doesn't want to go. Unfortunately, an immigration agent by the name of Gorman Seedling (Michael McKean) and his partner Eli Turnbull (David Spade) are hot on the family's trail, going to extreme lengths to prove that they are in the country illegally. The pressure from Seedling and Turnbull forces the Coneheads to return to Remulak when they get the chance, but the trip home isn't the reunion Beldar and Prymatt expected it to be. It turns out they miss Earth and have assimilated so well to life with humans that they may just want to leave Remulak for good.
After the huge box office success of "Wayne's World," it was inevitable that other films would be made based upon "Saturday Night Live" sketches. The Coneheads sketches were very popular when they first debuted on the show in 1977, but the sketches only lasted about two years since Aykroyd and Curtin moved on to other things. This made "Coneheads" an unlikely choice for a sketch-turned-movie, considering it had been well over a decade since the last sketch appeared on the show. With Aykroyd and Curtin agreeing to reprise their roles though, the film was given the green light—the part of Earth-born daughter Connie would be recast. Keeping Aykroyd and Curtin as the two leads turned out to be a wise move, because the two clearly hadn't missed a beat since 1979. In the film, Beldar and Prymatt pick up right where they left off, and the stars share a chemistry that makes them believable as a long-term couple in love even as they're homesick for their home planet.
Part of the original sketches' charm was that the Beldar and Prymatt used unnecessarily complicated words to explain very simple concepts. For example, they described themselves as Connie's "parental units." That trend continues in the film, creating ample comedic moments when neighbors and coworkers react to their language choices. While some of these phrases, such as "consume mass quantities," are lifted straight from the sketches, some new additions will surprise and delight longtime fans. The solid balance of old and new should please a wide range of people beyond just diehard fans and makes the pointy-headed family accessible to a new generation.
One of the best things about "Saturday Night Live" sketches being adapted for the big screen is that plenty of veterans from the venerable NBC show appear in cameos. Many films feature cameo performances, but it's rare to have quite as many as "Coneheads" has—especially from such funny people. Those who show up for just a scene or two include Adam Sandler and the late Phil Hartman, whose patented smarminess elicits lots of laughs in his short amount of screen time. Thanks to the numerous cameos and Aykroyd's and Curtin's A-game performances, "Coneheads" surpasses its source material and becomes a funny and enjoyable romp of a film in its own right.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5