Wednesday, January 17, 2024


A Tale of Two Connies

What's it about?

Tonight's nostalgic pic is "Coneheads" (Paramount, 1993). Alien interlopers Beldar (Dan Aykroyd) and Prymatt (Jane Curtain) have a malfunction on their spaceship while on their way to Earth to conquer the planet. The ship goes down in the ocean and the two are forced to swim to shore without weapons or the means to communicate with their home planet, Remulak. The two find that they know nothing about the local culture, but are forced to blend in until they can contact their superiors. Beldar uses his advanced technical knowledge to work as a TV repair man for Otto (Sinbad) and uses the opportunity to secretly construct a device to contact Remulak.

Ozzie and Harriet, if Ozzie and Harriet were immigrants. And horrific aliens.

He is informed that a space cruiser will be sent to Earth to pick up the two in seven "zurls" (which is apparently the equivalent of nearly two decades on Earth). Prymatt expresses concern and reveals that she is pregnant, to Beldar's delight. When Otto realizes that Beldar is an "illegal alien" he arranges a meeting with mobster Carmine (Adam Sandler) to get him some documentation.
Aw, he's so young! Also, not very funny.

Unbeknownst to everyone, the documents are being tracked by United Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agents and their insane director, Gorman Seedling (Michael McKean).
This man is an absolute legend.

After the INS raids the aliens' trailer home, Beldar and Prymatt relocate to a new job (taxi driver) and a basement apartment, saving money to buy a home to raise their daughter in.
Driving Miss Drew-ey.

When the second INS raid fails and jeopardizes his promotion, Seedling makes tracking down the aliens his main priority. Beldar and Prymatt give birth to a baby girl and settle into successful suburban life, while their daughter, Connie (Michelle Burke) grows up as an earthling.
She's played as a normal girl in this interpretation, unlike the original sketches.

Can the family maintain their cover while waiting for rescue?

Some background

Wow this is *checks watch* THIRTY YEARS OLD NOW?! That can't be right. Why do my bones hurt?

This is based on the original Saturday Night Live sketches produced by Lorne Michaels and starring Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtain, and Laraine Newman (as the original Connie) all the way back in 1977. There was an effort made before to revive the property (in the 1980s they made some new sketches with Phil Hartman and Nora Dunn taking over for Aykroyd and Curtain), and also make the property more mainstream (see my review of the animated pilot). This film took that humble beginning and made it a blockbuster special-effects-laden film with a $30,000,000 budget (an astronomical amount in 1993)! The ads were everywhere, and it was one of the first times I remember the restaurant chain Subway really leaning into commercial promotions (a Subway restaurant is even prominently featured in a scene). This film had a gigantic cast of well-known comedians and soon-to-be-famous stars.

How big were the stars? This background character swimming coach is played by Ellen DeGeneres.

It's funny, the gags are very visual, and it got absolutely totaled at the box office, only bringing in just over $21,000.000 worldwide, failing to even meet its budget. Even today the film is listed as "rotten" on, absolutely hated by critics and fans alike.

The good

Surprisingly, despite is cold by-the-numbers corporate veneer, I don't hate this film. I don't know that you can fault the cast for how bad it was received, as it has an astounding amount of Saturday Night Live alumni and NBC sitcom stars in the cast, and every scene and bit part had me pointing at the screen and shouting, "ooh! I know that person!" It delighted me, especially since it makes the aggressive aliens of Remulak seem just as clumsy, overconfident, and incompetent as their earthling counterparts (my favorite joke is when starship Captain Orecruiser, played by Garret Morris, accidentally hits the moon while pulling away from Earth and just pretends like it's normal).

Even if you don't know who Garret Morris is, you've probably seen him in something.

I like the "immigrants are people too" message, but it's not really delivered cleverly or leaned on as much as it could be.

The bad

The film doesn't have very many twists, especially in this day and age, and really just leans into its B-movie tendencies, but while its laughs are usually obvious it rarely goes for the guttural gross-out humor of most "Happy Madison" films, of which this shares some sizeable DNA.

This horrific scene at the dentist is about as bad as it gets.

The one sore spot for me is the sexual aggressiveness of Chris Farley's character "Ronnie," as he almost assaults Connie at one point, but it is played off as "normal" and "romantic" later on.
This character isn't great, but is typical of Chris Farley at the time. 

This is rather shockingly one of the shortest movies I've ever watched, clocking in at just 86 minutes from beginning to the end credit crawl. It might be dragging a bit in spots which is why it seems longer, but I couldn't say for sure; it seems like a normal length film despite its hastened approach.

Go ahead, watch it with the kids

This movie should be okay for younger viewers. It's mostly just a family sitcom with a few light horror elements that are all played for laughs. There's no swearing, although there is a lot of alien sex-talk and innuendo, but as most of the dialogue in these scenes is made up of nonsense words younger viewers might not gather what the scene is referring to even if they understand the tone.

WARNING: May contain questionable levels of Spade.

Is it worth watching? Eeeeh… Probably not. If you're familiar with the cast of SNL and the liked the original sketches it is well worth seeing. It's pretty inoffensive overall, and you might just get a laugh or two, but don't expect biting social commentary or to bust a gut from laughing so hard.

Where can you watch it?

"Coneheads" is available to rent or buy on most platforms, and is can be streamed for no extra cost with YouTube Premium (which is where I watched it), as well as for free with commercials on some other providers (like Pluto TV) at the writing of this review.

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