VIking Night: Earth Girls Are Easy
By Bruce Hall
March 14, 2018
Without meaning to or even really trying, I just may have saved entertainment.
I imagine a television series, meant to serve as a sequel to 1994’s Timecop. Only this time Jean Claude Van Damme is not playing a police officer, he’s playing a film producer. At first I went with the obvious idea that each week, he’d travel to the past to right one of the most horrific entertainment “wrongs” in history. A good idea, but as much as humanity would benefit from Sex and the City being erased from the timeline, this was not the answer. I knew I could do better.
Then it hit me. Nobody ever talks about films that were kind of “meh” when they came out, but were still enough fun to have potential. The kinds of movies that, had the makers known what they’d had at the time, might have been outright masterpieces. This summer, only one man can give humanity back what it’s lost. And I propose he start with a little movie called Earth Girls are Easy. It’s a movie I’d always avoided it because according to history, it was a terrible film that lost a lot of money.
Only one of those things is true, and had someone known in time it might have been even better than it was. So much better in fact, that history might have been different.
A lot Van Dammed different.
But you’d never guess from the first few minutes. Earth Girls are Easy starts out as a domestic comedy about a dimwitted Valley girl and her unfaithful fiancee. Valerie (Geena Davis) and Ted (Charles Rocket) are on the eve of their wedding, but their relationship is anything but blissful. Ted pays little attention to his future wife, and she blames herself for the rift. She has no idea that he’s a serial philanderer and all-around terrible person, or that this is the only reason I can think of for being frigid toward a young Geena Davis. Yet as alien as that sounds, the real story is up in orbit.
A vaguely phallic looking starship happens to pass overhead while Valerie is sunbathing by the pool. A trio of bored travelers are on board, scanning the planet for beautiful women as they happen upon Valerie. Yes, that’s kind of creepy and it sounds like a deleted scene from Heavy Metal 2000, but you won’t have time to think about it. Zeebo (Damon Wayans), Wiploc (Jim Carrey) and Mac (Jeff Goldblum) are repulsive, hairy looking humanoids whose clothing consists of tight helmets and colorful plastic man-thongs. Their native tongue sounds like someone took acid and started reading from Bjork’s diary. The inside of their vessel looks like what toddlers dream about.
And it makes for some of the most unexpectedly hilarious physical comedy I’ve seen in a long time. Imagine the three actors I just mentioned, dressed like day-glo space-apes, arguing in nonsensical gibberish as their malfunctioning vessel plunges toward Geena Davis’ backyard. I can think of no other way to describe the scene as to say that I’ve never gone from “horrified” to “confused” to “suffocating laughter” and then right back to “confused” so quickly...ever.
It gets better once they make contact with Valerie. Geena Davis doesn’t get enough credit for her comedic chops, and it’s nothing less than amazing to see Jim Carrey in a red monkey-suit, giving it his all because he was nowhere near famous yet. And the only way to make Jeff Goldblum more...Goldblum...is to take away his ability to clearly communicate. The aliens have an ability to mimic sound, and learn a sort of broken English by imitating the television. But even when he’s dressed like an electric blue Wookie who can’t speak American Goldblum is so...Goldblum. So, what might have been a an excruciating regurgitation of trope is instead something of a perverse joy.
And that’s right before you realize you’re watching a musical. Most of the things I watch for Viking Night are films that I’ve already seen at least once before, and often am already pretty familiar with. I had heard of Earth Girls are Easy, but genuinely knew nothing about the plot. So if you ever find yourself in the same boat, thinking “is Geena Davis really lip syncing?” remember that the answer is yes. Yes, she is.
And what’s weird about this is that the film gives no indication whatsoever that at any time anyone is going to break out in song. It just happens and...congratulations, you’re watching a musical. I want to be honest with you - the first couple of numbers are relatively close together and they aren’t very good. They’re the sort of quintessential Eighties pabulum that could only have been loved in the moment. Then, about halfway through, Earth Girls forgets about the music and turns into a dance-off.
So if you ever find yourself in the same boat, thinking “holy shit, can Damon Wayans dance, or what?” remember that the answer is yes. Yes, he can. And then later, the music comes back - except it’s good this time. I know, I’m probably not making much sense. But remember, this started out as a Jean Claude Van Damme reference. Also, Earth Girls is so much damned fun because every time it’s bad, it does something really good, and you forgive it. Over time the good outweighs the bad, and at the end you realize you’ve just had the time of your life.
Earth Girls are Easy is an underrated gem that doesn’t hit the mark every time, but it only picks high value targets. One minute it’s this, one minute it’s that. It all goes by too fast to be upsetting, and it’s all too delightful not to be entertaining. It just wants to add an hour and a half of joy to your life.And, to remind you that Jeff Goldblum - when he wishes it - wields a magical touch capable of changing hearts and minds.
And...scene. The right man, sent back in time with an extra four million dollars, could make it perfect.
The ball is in your court, Jean Claude.