Problematic Movies of the '80s | Earth Girls Are Easy (1988)
I grew up loving science fiction. I was that sixth grader who read the Asimov entire Foundation trilogy in the fall. It’s likely I only understood 30 percent of it but I read it with gusto. I gravitated to Star Trek and was in the audience of the initial release of Star Wars 25 times (this being long before the joys of VHS tapes to capture films in the unending home viewing loop). Alien worlds, exploration, movies about astronauts and starships. I ate that shit up.
What drove me was the ideas. I loved the ideas. Which is why it is a bit distressing in the hindsight of 2018 that the only thing I can remember about 1988’s Earth Girls Are Easy is Geena Davis in a bikini.
By the time it came out, I was a senior in college, a blackout drunk and all the things we now revile in a collegiate aged white guy (minus the rich parents and rapey instincts), so I suppose I’m unsurprised that I only remember the hot chick in a movie featuring Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey, Michael McKean and Damon Wayans.
I loved Davis in 1986’s The Fly (it always surprises me that movie never seems to make my Top 10 list despite how much I fucking loved it) and I crushed hard on her in Beetlejuice, so it seems natural that the draw for me was watching her parade around in the barest of clothing, but c’mon, right? I find myself bemused and slightly embarrassed that in my most physically viable years my choices were so directly motivated by my cock.
Earth Girls Are Easy
Written by Julie Brown, Charlie Coffey, & Terrence E. McNally
Directed by Julien Temple
To describe Earth Girls Are Easy is difficult. Part MTV generation ‘80s fluff piece, part quasi-musical (I’d forgotten that part entirely), part romantic comedy, all pinks and light blues and yellows — this thing is like someone ate a Spencer’s Gifts, a Chess King and a Contempo store, drank a gallon of Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers, and threw it all up on Julie Brown’s chest.
Julie Brown, for those not in the know, started as a spoof musician, broke into film in Lily Tomlin’s The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981) and hit with the debut of her first EP, a five-song album called Goddess in Progress. The album, parodies of popular ‘80s music combined with her valley girl personality, was quickly discovered by the Dr. Demento Show. The songs 'Cause I'm a Blonde and The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun were given radio airplay across the world. The latter was a spoof on stereotypical 1950s teen tragedy songs with cheerleaders' heads and pompoms being blown to pieces.
While starring Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum and the cast of In Living Color, this film is all Julie Brown. Channeling a healthy portion of John Waters for style, Brown’s script tells the tale of a manicurist (Davis) who discovers her doctor fiancé (Charles Rocket) is a cheating skeeve, destroys all his stuff and is sunning herself by his pool when horny, fuzzy aliens (Goldblum, Wayans and Carrey) crash land in said pool. Over the course of two days and one night, the aliens are completely shaved by Candy Pink (Brown), go clubbing, do a dance-off, fall in love, rob a convenience store, go to the beach on “Blonde’s Day,” escape being dissected, and fly away with Davis in tow.
There are several musical numbers (not enough for a full-blown musical) and the most popular and oft highlighted is Brown’s spoof piece Because I’m a Blonde.
I mean, this is a really dumb movie.
And, yes. Even 30 years later I found myself completely mesmerized by Davis in a bustier, in a pink bikini, in a midriff shirt, in ripped jeans. It should be noted that 30 years later I was equally mesmerized by super hot Jeff Goldblum in his waist-high billowing pants and no shirt. Quite frankly, these two onscreen are absolute magic. It’s no wonder they were married for a brief three years and it is in no small way that this extremely dumb movie is carried by their chemistry. Both unconventionally sexy, there’s just something hot about the two of them together.
Oh. There’s also McKean doing his level best playing a surfer burnout.
Problematic Moments & Themes
Yes, Wayans is black and is in the top-billed cast. He gets some goofy moments and his big showcase scene is a dance-off with another black actor vying for the affections of a black female actor. Not going for Roots here but at least there’s some color on the screen and nothing in this entire movie is racist or bigoted in any way. Which is refreshing for the 1980s at this point.
There’s a little bit of homophobic humor, primarily in the lispy accent suddenly adopted by a cop, but it skirts the line of offense in that the gayness of these two police officers is not made fun of, rather it exists as kind of a long gone conclusion.
If there is a series of problematic messages in this dorky vehicle, it’s that Valarie (Davis) is kind of perpetually dumb. She lives for a fiance who treats her like shit and is willing to marry him despite his crap behavior. On top of that, she pretty much parades around throughout the film in “look at my hot, lean, tall body” while adopting the slightly stupid baby talk that Brown makes fun of in her Blonde video. She falls for the Goldblum alien only after he uses his psychedelic love touch on her (with her full consent but still kind of Cosby-esque, you know?). As a leading lady, there’s just not much going on in the brains/agency department.
A few years later, Davis took this same character and evolved into a bit more empowered feminist in Thelma & Louise, but they die in the end rather than get transported to another planet so maybe the messages are a tad mixed.
Overall though, aside from the fact that the only reason a 16-year-old boy would even bother to see it starts with a B, ends with an S and rhymes with boobs, the movie is more dumb than tainted by incorrect political platforming.
Did it Hold Up?
It’s fine. Not great, not terribly problematic. Fun in a “Oh my fucking christ — did we really dress like that?” sort of way.
Scale of 1 to 10
1 = Classic
10 = Burn all VHS copies of it
Earth Girls Are Easy gets a 7 (if only to witness the young, sexy Goldblum in full sexiness.)
Next Up: Revenge of the Nerds (1984)