Release Date(s)1988 (November 8, 2022)
Studio(s)Vestron Video/Lionsgate (Vestron Video Collector’s Series)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: A+
Aliens have visited Earth in many films, sometimes out of curiosity, mostly as violent invaders. But seldom has there been a trio of aliens like those in Earth Girls Are Easy, a comedy/sci-fi/musical set in Southern California.
Manicurist Valerie (Geena Davis) is in a bad relationship with fiancé Ted (Charles Rocket). She’s upset that Ted, a surgeon, has been working late every night, and unhappy with his vanishing sexual interest. Sweet and naive, Valerie is completely unaware that Ted has been philandering with another woman until she happens upon them together in the apartment she and Ted share. Heartbroken and furious, she breaks off the engagement and tosses him out.
The next day, lying next to her pool and trying to exorcise pent-up negative energy, Valerie hears a huge splash and discovers that a spacecraft has landed in her pool. Three brightly colored, fur-covered aliens emerge from the craft—Mac (Jeff Goldblum), Wiploc (Jim Carrey), and Zeebo (Damon Wayans). Being polite, and wishing to avoid the prying eyes of neighbors, Valerie invites them in and watches as they make an intrigued examination of commonplace objects that they have never before encountered.
Figuring the aliens’ appearance is a bit too extreme for them to blend in with Earthlings, Valerie takes them to the Curl Up & Dye beauty salon owned by her pal, Candy Pink (Julie Brown). Once their Technicolor fuzz is shaved off, the make-over is dramatic. The aliens resemble good-looking young men. Mac is instantly attracted to Valerie and, though she’s curious, she’s unsure about developing a relationship with an E.T. After all, can an interplanetary relationship work?
Geena Davis’ Valerie is supposed to be your typical Valley Girl, but this doesn’t instantly register. Her speech pattern, for instance, lacks the Valley Girl twang, and her naïveté is exaggerated to the point of incredibility. Her reaction to seeing an alien spaceship in her pool just feet from where she’s sunbathing is underplayed, and when she switches to hostess mode, we see that she may not have scored very high on her SATs.
Goldblum has the biggest role of the three aliens. Mac acclimates himself pretty quickly to the Southern California lifestyle with its laid-back appeal and abundance of beautiful young women. But it’s Valerie he has his eye on, and his pursuit of her is a strangely romantic thread running through the film.
Carrey and Wayans provide most of the laughs with a lot of broad comedy, most of it visual. An early joke is played to the hilt as the three curious visitors check out household items in oddly humorous ways. They educate themselves about Earth by flipping from channel to channel on the TV and seeing bits of a Ronald Reagan presidential address, dopey game shows, Hollywood Westerns, and James Dean emoting “You’re tearing me apart” from Rebel Without a Cause. They’re fascinated by spray cheese, mesh window curtains, martini glasses, and a ringing landline telephone.
Julie Brown has a fairly large role as Valerie’s friend Candy. Brown co-wrote the screenplay with herself in mind to play Valerie, but when the studio decided to go with Geena Davis in the role, Brown rewrote the part of the friend for herself. She’s showcased nicely and has two big production numbers. Her energy is non-stop, and her flair for comedy adds to the laughs. Complete with big 80s hair and a laid-back vibe, she epitomizes the Valley Girl type far better than Davis.
A word that comes immediately to mind to describe Earth Girls Are Easy is “silly,” but not in a derogatory way. The film is funny, touching in parts, with a strange charm that keeps you involved. Composed of episodes rather than a through narrative, the film takes us to numerous locations in the San Fernando Valley, opening up the action to keep us involved despite a few dull parts that slow the film’s pacing. British director Julien Temple seems intrigued with the Valley lifestyle and focuses whimsically on its peculiarities. There’s even some screen time featuring Angelyne, a real L.A. personality who drives around in a Corvette convertible.
The tone of the film is lighthearted and its musical numbers are reminiscent of Hollywood’s Golden Era. A Brand New Girl, performed in Candy’s hair salon, uses some early Photoshopping, excellent dancers, flashing lights, elaborate choreography, colorful costumes, and a driving, irresistible beat. Cause I’m Blonde, sung by Julie Brown wearing a blonde wig, is right out of the Frankie and Annette Beach Party playbook, set on a California beach with swimsuit-clad extras forming a sandy chorus as ocean waves lap the shore. The numbers are staged to provide humor, with a constantly moving camera and Temple primarily using master shots so that the dancers’ movements can be fully appreciated. The soundtrack contains songs by Hall & Oates, The B-52s, and Depeche Mode, along with original songs by Nile Rodgers.
Though the film never falls apart, it often looks as if it might. Frequently, jokes are milked far too long and the film seems to be heading into a dead end. There are also stretches that drag, but then a musical number pops up to enliven things, and we once again perk up. A consistent pace and editing would have tightened up things considerably.
Earth Girls Are Easy was shot by director of photography Oliver Stapleton on 35 mm film with Panavision cameras and lenses, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The new Vestron Video Blu-ray offers a presentation with detail that’s sharp and well delineated. Clarity is excellent and the palette is vibrant, with bright colors practically jumping off the screen during the musical numbers. From the aliens’ eye-catching fur in the three primary hues to Geena Davis’ skimpy pink bikini, Angelyne’s shiny pink Corvette, and the multi-hued spaceship itself, color adds immeasurably to the film’s impact. Shot mostly with high key lighting, the film often looks like a cotton candy extravaganza. The beauty salon number features flashing colored lights, spotlights, and strobe effects. When the aliens lightly touch an Earthling, there’s a vibrating multi-exposure effect suggesting that the person is under a spell. Though the special effects pale in comparison to what’s currently possible, their primitiveness adds to the film’s kitschy vibe.
The soundtrack is English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. Optional English SDH subtitles are available. The aliens’ initial utterances and screeching “speech” add to the film’s weirdness. Traditional dialogue is clear and distinct while the musical numbers are recorded beautifully and sound great. Assorted sound effects, such as otherworldly tonalities within the spaceship, highlight the sci-fi aspect of the story.
In addition to a Digital code on a paper insert and a slipcover featuring new artwork by Matthew Therrien, bonus materials include the following:
- Audio Commentary with Julie Brown and Mike Perez
- The Musical Man with Julien Temple (HD – 20:01)
- Candy Time! with Julie Brown (HD – 20:10)
- Views of the Valley: The Visual Design of Earth Girls Are Easy (HD – 17:39)
- Aliens in L.A. with Robert Clark (HD – 11:42)
- Deleted Scenes & Outtakes (SD – 8:07)
- Earth Girls Karaoke! (SD – 11:02)
- Behind-the-Scenes Footage (SD – 7:43)
- Vintage Interview with Actor Charles Rocket (SD – 6:29)
- Vintage Premiere Night Promo (SD – 3:59)
- Theatrical Trailers (HD – 2 in all – 3:39)
- TV Spots (SD – 4 in all – 1:56)
- Radio Spots (HD – 2 in all – 1:08)
- Still Gallery (HD – 82 in all – 7:33)
- Storyboard Gallery (HD – 93 in all – 6:26)
In the audio commentary, Julie Brown describes Earth Girls Are Easy as a parody of 1950s science fiction. The idea for the film came from a song she and a partner wrote based on a magazine article. The studio liked the song and thought it could be expanded into a screenplay. British director Julien Temple added several visual touches. It was his idea to have the three aliens in three different primary colors, just like Technicolor. Temple was taken on a tour of the Valley and introduced to the Valley Girl milieu. Brown patterned her songs for the film on Broadway musicals, such as writing a “what I want” type of song for Valerie. She notes that through the years, Earth Girls Are Easy has been shown on several different cable stations and has developed a cult following. Angelyne, who appears in the film, is a real person. Brown and moderator Mike Perez discuss the various locations used in the film. She also talks about her thoughts on blondes and how that affected her performance in the Cause I’m Blonde number.
The Musical Man – Director Julien Temple was not pleased that Earth Girls Are Easy was shown for years on TV cropped, with a third of the picture unseen. He worked with the Sex Pistols and in music videos, doing about 50 of them over a few years. His feature film Absolute Beginners was a complete failure in England. When offered Earth Girls Are Easy, he read the screenplay and found it very funny. He talks about visiting Jerry Lewis at his home in Las Vegas to ask permission to use a clip from The Nutty Professor. After hearing about the film, Lewis agreed. Temple discusses the casting of Goldblum, Carrey, and Wayans, and explains that most of the effects were done “in camera” rather than through optical means, mostly because there was always pressure to save money.
Candy Time! – Julie Brown notes that, as a big fan of movie musicals, she hoped that they would come back after the release of Earth Girls Are Easy, but that never happened. She discusses writing songs for her first EP record. While pitching the idea for the film to studio executives, she got a record deal from Warner Bros. She wrote many drafts of the screenplay and did a screen test for Valerie but Geena Davis, a bigger name, was cast, so she reworked the secondary role for herself. Julien Temple banned her from the set because she “had too many opinions.” Cause I’m Blonde was shot six months after production wrapped because the studio liked her performance and wanted to expand her role.
Views of the Valley – Director of photography Oliver Stapleton and production designer Dennis Gassner refer to the film as “funny... interesting.” Julien Temple came to Los Angeles taking in the “kitsch of Hollywood.” “Style was set in the first paragraph” of the screenplay. Temple has a keen eye for detail. The spaceship interior was built in the studio. Green screen was primitive at the time. The sense of weightlessness was created by speeding up the camera to 250 frames per second and having the actors use a trampoline. Because of lighting requirements, the set was extremely hot. For the musical numbers, Temple didn’t want excessive cutting, so he was careful to make sure he had good master shots.
Aliens in L.A. – Make-up supervisor Robert Clark had done low budget films before Earth Girls Are Easy that were attracting attention. He notes that An American Werewolf in London was a turning point for movie special effects, which became more elaborate. Clark made mechanical dogs for Cujo. He designed the aliens’ helmets and painted their costumes, which couldn’t be washed because the color patterns would be destroyed. A crew of ten worked on the “alien” actors simultaneously. One person did the face make-up.
Deleted Scenes & Outtakes – Among these clips is a series of takes in which Mac’s long arm (extended courtesy of the special effects department) reaches around Candy to take a bag at a fast food window. The artificial arm never quite hits its mark despite several tries.
Earth Girls Karaoke! – The musical number A Brand New Girl is shown as the words appear in yellow at the bottom of the screen.
Behind-the-Scenes Footage – This random footage shows the shooting of scenes, the preparation of camera set-ups, and casual chat among the cast and crew while waiting for scenes to be lit. The footage reflects a harmonious set.
Vintage Interview with Charles Rocket – Shot on the set, this interview features Rocket talking about the audition process, his interactions with his co-stars and director, and his thoughts on his character, Ted. Rocket passed away on October 7, 2005 at the age of 56.
Vintage Premiere Night Promo – This featurette contains footage from the premiere of Earth Girls Are Easy at Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Clips are shown, as well as cast members and the director arriving and being interviewed. Among the celebrities attending the premiere was Linda Blair.
Still Gallery – Accompanied by music from the film by Nile Rodgers, a series of 82 color and black-and-white photos of scenes, promotional materials, domestic and foreign posters, and soundtrack album cover artwork are shown in slideshow format.
Storyboard Gallery – For both A Brand New Girl and The Ground You Walk On musical numbers, a series of 93 storyboards were drawn up, presented here and accompanied by the actual musical tracks.
The major attraction of Earth Girls Are Easy is that it never takes itself seriously. It’s intended to be a broad parody, and its production values are very good. With a cast of talented up-and-coming actors, it has an infectious sense of the ludicrous, which it completely embraces.
- Dennis Seuling