My Stepmother is an Alien is the film Dan Ackroyd did right before the unfairly maligned Ghostbusters II. He is essentially playing a spin on his Ray Stanz character from that franchise, but it’s about an extra-terrestrial instead of ghouls from the afterlife. It came out in December 1989, and although it didn’t set the world on fire, My Stepmother is an Alien would become a staple on ’90s cable television, where it gained a few fans.
The film’s plot is completely nonsensical, but essentially Steve Mills (Ackroyd) is a widowed scientist who sends some radio waves into deep space. They hit the planet Cosine N to the 8th, and it perceived as a attack. Celeste (Kim Basinger) is sent from that planet to investigate, and upon arrival she crashes a party put on by Steve’s brother Ron (Jon Lovitz). Soon Steve is explaining to Celeste what sex is, which she ends up enjoying very much. This all starts happening without Steve knowing that she is literally out of this world.
The film has dated really poorly—anybody who thinks the original Ghostbusters is too problematic for today’s audiences should watch My Stepmother is an Alien. It’s kind of stunning that this film landed a PG-13 in the States, given the prudish MPAA. It’s a 15 here in the UK, and no wonder why: there is literally a joke involving a VHS of Debbie Does Dallas and parody non-existing sequels (there are in reality 11 sequels and three spin-offs). That’s actually the most funny scene in the film, because it’s otherwise pretty much laugh free.
Ackroyd and Basinger have some chemistry, but the script is just so poor. It actually started out life as allegorical film about child abuse, languishing in development hell for years until it became this wacky Dan Ackroyd comedy! Jon Lovitz plays a complete sleazeball and is really unfunny—he is always grating, and only works in small doses, like in Happiness or Southland Tales. Basinger’s Celeste does have a purse that’s this alien tentacle with a single eye that can create any object, making for a cool bit of special effects. I can’t imagine this is a film that will find many new fans, but if you have some nostalgia for My Stepmother is an Alien, you may enjoy revisiting it.
The Blu-Ray from Arrow Video includes a new commentary track by critic Bryan Reesman and an interview with director Richard Benjamin. The disc is rounded off with the usual image gallery and theatrical trailer. The booklet in the first pressing includes an essay from Amanda Reyes.