Earth Girls Are Easy is a campy sci-fi comedy with grisly song and dance numbers, set in ‘80s San Fernando Valley, and starring Valley girl Valerie (Geena Davis), who’s a manicurist. Everything’s pink, (almost) everyone’s blond, and then three aliens in a giant blow dryer land in Valerie’s swimming pool. But things started getting weird way before that.
I’m not sure how well-known or well-regarded this movie is. It’s certainly not one of the classics you think of first when you recall the good movies of the ‘80s. One reason that a lot of people might not have seen it is that the first twenty minutes are truly unwatchable, at least for a male audience. That part is about establishing Valerie’s situation: her problems with her cheating fiancé, and how her girlfriends at the manicure place give her a make-over (which turns out to have as good as no relevance to the plot), all shown as a gratuitous and over-the-top musical number featuring everything about the ‘80s that we who have taste now consider superlatively tasteless. Aesthetically, it’s like nails scraping across a blackboard. The movie demonstrates its paradoxical nature at this early point: it seems to be a science fiction movie for, you know, like, fashion-conscious SoCal chicks. Well, either that or it’s a total satire. I think it’s safe to bet on the latter – even if it is directed by a music video director with a predilection for pink, who may in some scenes have ventured a teeny bit too far into chickflick territory. What it certainly is, is one strange comedy.
Twenty minutes in, we meet the three aliens from the planet Zimbabwe (well, not really, but close enough). Okay, they’re also in a brief scene in the very beginning, but now they start being a main focus. They aren’t much taller than six inches or so, but they can change their height. They have fur, and they’re in three different colors (red, yellow and blue). Valerie befriends them, and after a(nother) make-over at the manicure place, this one involving shaving their fur off, the aliens turn out to be none others than Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans – or Mac, Wiploc and Zeebo, if you will. With the help of Valerie’s friend Candy, they proceed to paint the Valley red by visiting various clubs and causing a ruckus everywhere they go. All the while, Valerie is trying to sort out her life, which has now become a lot more chaotic thanks to the aliens – the leader of whom she falls in love with (or is it lust? Valerie is the “easy Earth girl” of the title – as she shouts to her douchebag fiancé: “If you want meaningless sex, why can’t you have it with me?!”).
While much of this movie’s style is ‘80s hell, it also has snippets of ‘80s heaven. While some elements are highly toe cringing, fortunately there are also quite a few scenes of classic hilarity. The movie is a true (even quintessential) document in ‘80s fashion, pop culture and clubbing, and not taking itself remotely seriously. It’s fascinating to watch. The hi-jinks of the aliens are mostly funny, especially in their early appearance where they don’t understand anything Valerie says. I just love those facial expressions of utter incomprehension – Jim Carrey is a particular champion of those.
There you have it. Not one of the greatest movies of those wonderfully messy ‘80s that we love, but nor is it the worst way to while away a hundred minutes of sci-fi-tainment of the lighter kind.
My DVD is the 2007 Region 0 PAL release, and it’s nothing to shout about. The transfer seems to be taken from a VHS tape (which of course does add authenticity to the whole ‘80s vibe, but…), and there are absolutely no extras of any kind. On the opening menu, you can “Play Movie” and nothing else. Not even scene selection. If you want a good version of this movie, my advice is to get the Region 1 Special Edition released in 2001. I don’t know how good it is, but it can’t be worse than this bare-bones European release.
Director: Julien Temple
Cast: Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans, Charles Rocket, Julie Brown
Runtime: 100 min.