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Show me Jimmy.

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Show me Jimmy.

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The work I'm doing at home requires close attention but not much brain power. That can be a lethal combination - I have loathed jobs that were arranged just so. In order to make it tolerable for any length of time, I need something going on in the background; for this, and this alone, I default to the TV.

I'm not actually watching television shows that are on this season, of course, or even reruns. I don't want to spend time even half-watching things I don't really care about, and I need something that will hold my spare attention without grabbing all of my focus or being annoying at all, which is no guarantee with TV. For that amount of control, we're talking DVDs of movies or TV shows that I've already seen.

This is the backstory/explanation of my reason for starting My Stepmother Is an Alien yesterday and finishing it today.

I'd say it's on the low end of that can-hold-my-spare-attention quality scale. I haven't seen it in years, and was just in the mood for silly and not too engaging. Frankly, I have no idea how I managed to forget the supreme dippiness of this movie. I suppose it just faded into the Technicolor rainbow background that was the 80s. In spite of the fact that I actually remembered it pretty well, some aspects of it that I recalled as not-abnormal were almost stunningly goofy on a fresh viewing outside that context. Even with the ridiculous silliness of the movie as a given, though, there are some really interesting things about it on a couple of levels:

--- on a purely geeky level - I remembered that Alyson Hannigan played Dan Aykroyd's daughter Jessie in the movie, but I either completely forgot or never realized that the bit part of Jessie's date was played by Syth Green. So funny that they played characters who dated in something prior to Buffy. I DID remember him from It, but that was a couple of years later, in a full-sized part of a TV movie that I anticipated and talked about, of a book that I loved by one of MY authors, so... well, yeah.

--- on a social observation level - my attention was particularly caught by how readily apparent the (warped) 80s version of sexuality is in this movie: a good first meeting - not even a date - ends in sex, which is what makes it good, and the sex is wildly idealized, but it's not a one night stand, they are "in love," so much that she gives up her life on her own planet to stay with him; the unrealistically well-adjusted daughter of the funny geeky widower mad scientist asks him if he notices that she looks different because she's wearing a bra; later, she practically high-fives him on realizing that he'd had sex the night before. Of all the "weird" things in this movie, the weirdest, hands down, is a 13 year old girl who is totally cool talking to her dad about all things bodily and sexual.

--- on an acting chops level - Kim Basinger's performance was really amazingly unreserved. Most of the characters in the movie are standard - the mean boss, the horndog loser of a brother, the cute daughter who is the only one who knows what's going on. Hell, as far as Dan Aykroyd's part was concerned, I could see the pitch for the movie having been, "Ok, Ghostbusters was great, but there were too many scientists... get rid of all but one. Oh, the movie needs some cuteness, give the science guy a kid. And... the love interest should actually be... wait for it... a GHOST! Or, no, an ALIEN! A HOT alien!" and so on. The movie hinged on the fish-out-of-water, the weirdo, the "I do not know your strange ways, but I will try to fake it with hilarious results" role. The only way to do that kind role right is to go all the way and play it completely straight, which takes skill, especially when the character is doing really radical things. She really threw herself into it, and it shows. I'm not saying the movie is genius - it certainly is not, though I won't delve into that as I'm done thinking about it now - but her performance really held it together; if she'd slipped over the top it would have been an unwatchable mess.

Yeah, this is me half-watching a movie. *snort*
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