Throwback Thursday: Starman (2014)

The invitation comes in the mail.

The envelope from which you pull it has gold confetti and has some kind of a light, perfumed aroma emanating from it. The invitation itself is made of the finest paper and, if you didn’t know better, you could swear it was a satin surface, it’s so smooth to the touch. Bright bold streams of ink pop brilliantly, crying out to you. Welcome! We’d love to have you join us for our party!

It’s warm, inviting, and you have to admit to yourself that you’re curious about going. The menu boasts of seafood, beef, and vegetarian dishes. Just thinking about it makes your mind up for you: yes, you’re going. The day arrives. You dress your best and arrive on the doorstep with a bottle of chilled wine under your arm, ready to meet the rest of the guests. The door opens and… you’re met with a shotgun barrel aimed between your eyes.

The party is over.

In ‘Starman,’ our alien hero picks up broadcast information inviting him to swing by Earth and check us out. So he does what any curious bystander would do when greeted so warmly: he drops by for a visit, only to be shot down upon arrival and have his craft crash in a secluded area, darn close to the middle of nowhere. How rude!

Concerned and looking for a place to hide, he takes on the human form of a recently deceased husband named “Scott,” with the intention of rendezvousing with his rescue ship in Arizona. He doesn’t expect that the three days that it takes to get there will be met with so much hostility along the way from the humans who invited him. Or that he will find a loving human companion within Jenny, the woman that he has forced to travel with him to get him back home.

It’s hard to believe that ‘Starman’ – starring Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, and Charles Martin Scott, and directed by John Carpenter – was made simply because ‘The Thing’ (1982) had been such a colossal flop in the box office years before. (GASP! What were the people in 1982 thinking?) The urge to make something that was much different than ‘The Thing’ resulted in another great hit from Carpenter, which in turn was great for the movie-going public.

How does a film 35 years old hold up to viewings in the present?  I won’t lie: there is dust on this baby, that you can tell from the watching of it, but it doesn’t detract from the fun of the movie. If you’re seeing it for the first time these days, it might be a rough introduction to the film, but for many people like me, who first viewed it when they were younger and are watching it again for the first time in years, it’s a blast from the past filled with humor and cuteness that’s hard to deny. And you get to see a younger Jeff Bridges (for real, before the CGI anti-aging of 2010’s ‘Tron: Legacy’). Great fun. Classic movie.

Throwback Thursday: Starman (2014)

I can think of plenty of times that human beings have intentionally hurt others in misinterpretation or miscommunication. It’s not unreasonable that this kind of story line could happen. Are we alone in the Universe? How would the government react to an alien species coming to check us out under innocent pretenses? Things get a little iffy for the viewer when we start thinking that an alien species can replicate a human body right down to his reproductive organs for a particularly non-surprise ending of the movie, but hey… Jeff Bridges is a handsome dude. I’ll let the alien sex slide.

You can’t expect this movie to be as action-packed as the films we see today, but the plot is ageless. Certainly, there are parts of the movie that don’t flow as well as they once did, some of the effects are dated, and the acting is a little goofy by today’s standards… but ‘Starman’ helped pave the road to what movies look like today, and I can’t find fault in too much about this movie or the story. It is still fun after all this time.

Okay, am I the only one who giggled and then outright laughed like a weirdo at the “birth” of our alien hero into “Scott the Human?” Holy moly. I’m not sure if, at one time, it was meant to be a scary or cute baby-to-man morph scene, but I swear that, at some point during the scene, I saw Kuato from ‘Total Recall’ taking shape there for a minute. He’s not the only one asking you to “open your mind…” when you see the special effects used here. Truly horrifying and gut-bustingly funny at the same time.

The movie is the kind that, on some rainy afternoon, you need to sit down and give it a watch. It’s silly, fun, and oddly tender when it needs to be. A while back, there was some internet buzz circling that Jeff Bridges was interested in making a modern-day sequel to ‘Starman’ to answer the way things were left back then. It seems like the idea is now dead, but it would be interesting to see if, in this modern-day of remaking anything and everything out there, anyone ever picks up the ball and runs with it. At the date of this review, there are no serious rumors going on surrounding the idea. It remains just idle chatter for the time being.