By the end of the 1980s, the Valley Girl jokes had gotten old, especially if you lived in the San Fernando Valley. Do you real think that we sound that dumb? For real? But, then there was Julie Brown.
Julie Brown is a comedian who actually is from the San Fernando Valley. During the 1980s, she poked fun at the funny voices, the nights of “cruising the Boulevard” (that would be Ventura Blvd.), but always with a wink-and-nudge that let on that she was one of us. She sang comedy ditties like “Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun” and “‘Cause I’m a Blonde.” Brown was famously one of two MTV hosts with the same name. Her show, Just Say Julie, was all about campy humor. Before that, though, she made a movie. That’s Earth Girls Are Easy. Brown co-wrote the script. She also co-starred in the film, alongside Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum.
Earth Girls Are Easy is about as campy as ’80s sci-fi movies got. Essentially, it’s a parody of mid-20th century B-movies. The sets, both inside the space ship and out on the streets of the Valley are a mishmash of the 1960s and 1980s. The fonts used in the opening credits look as though they came from a the poster of a cheesy-awesome horror movie. While it is primarily a sci-fi spoof, there are other elements at work here, like a handful of musical numbers and an homage to the beach party movies that had come back into kitschy fashion not long before this film was released.
The plot is sort of an inverse of sci-fi tropes. Instead of hot girls emerging from the spaceships, the aliens are men. The crayon-colored, furry beings are given a makeover by master beautician Candy (Brown) and turn into total hotties. The actors– Goldblum, Jim Carrey and Damon Wayans– aren’t necessarily known for pretty boy roles, but they play the parts of extraterrestrial hunks well.
As the aliens are adapting to life in the Valley, manicurist Valerie (Davis), is dealing with the doctor she’s set to marry. Does she stay with her cheating fiancé or dump him for the babe from outer space? Quite the quandary. Fortunately, she has Candy, an over-the-top character who is far more clever than the Valley Girl stereotype, to offer advice. In between this, there are all sorts of gags related to beauty shops, dating and life in the Valley. There’s even a cameo from Angelyne, the blonde, pink-clad bombshell who is something of a local celebrity. She’s best known for her appearances on numerous L.A. billboards over the years.
The Valley-ness of the movie will strike a chord with anyone who has a phone number that starts with an 818. The locations are all-too-familiar, like the Ventura Blvd. movie theater that’s now a bookstore. The weather report notes how much hotter is in the Valley compared to the rest of Los Angeles. Of course, that means that there will be an inevitable trek out to Zuma Beach.
Even if you don’t live in the area, you’ll no doubt pick up on the late 1980s trends that pepper every scene. There’s a gas station covered with joke versions of those old Baby on Board signs. There are close-up shots of some of the most long, acrylic fingernails painted in colors that may remind you of Miami Vice. No doubt, Earth Girls Are Easy is incredibly dated. Inevitably, though, that just adds to the movie’s charm.
Julien Temple directed Earth Girls Are Easy. The British director is actually best known for his work on music videos and music-centric documentaries. Prior to Earth Girls Are Easy, he directed Absolute Beginners, the musical that’s probably more famous for featuring David Bowie. With that in mind, it’s not hard to see that the musical component is important to this movie. Julie Brown’s own hits– like “‘Cause I’m a Blonde”– feature prominently in Earth Girls Are Easy. The score was composed by Nile Rodgers, the famed musician/producer who recently collaborated with Daft Punk. On top of that, there’s the soundtrack, which featured the really cool version of Depeche Mode’s cover of “Route 66.”
Beyond the soundtrack, though, there are moments when Earth Girls Are Easy starts to look like a music video. For example, take Valerie’s nightmare, a trippy black and white sequence that is part ’60s monster movie, part MTV. As the dream grows more intense, Jesus and Mary Chain’s rendition of the Bo Diddley tune “Who Do You Love?” sneaks into the scene. It’s bizarre, something that absolutely shouldn’t make sense with the rest of the movie, but kind of does.
Earth Girls Are Easy might not be a work of cinematic genius, but I wholeheartedly contend that it is one of the coolest movies to come out of the decade that brought us big hair and MTV. In it, hip music and comedy mixes with awful fashion and a goofy storyline for a fun hour-and-a-half.