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Richard Benjamin
Kim Basinger, Dan Aykroyd, Jon Lovitz
Writing Credits:
Jerico Stone, Herschel Weingrod, Timothy Harris

A creature from another planet tries to seduce a shy Earth physicist to gain control over his researches.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English PCM 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 12/14/21

• Audio Commentary with Film Critic Bryan Reesman
• “Cosmetic Encounters” Featurette
• Trailer
• Image Gallery


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My Stepmother Is An Alien [Blu-Ray] (1988)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 3, 2021)

With 1988’s My Stepmother Is An Alien, we find a high concept comedy. I guess the title could work for a sci-fi/horror film as well, but with Richard Benjamin as director and Dan Aykroyd as a lead, laughs become the goal.

Widowed single father Steven Mills (Dan Aykroyd) works as an astronomer. He accidentally transmits a mass of energy into space that threatens life on another planet.

That world’s inhabitants send an agent (Kim Basinger) to Earth to fix this within 48 hours. She adopts the human persona of “Celeste Martin” and finds herself increasingly distracted from her mission due to her growing fondness for Steven and his adolescent daughter Jessie (Alyson Hannigan).

Stepmother falls into that great abyss of 1980s movies I knew existed but never saw for reasons I can’t explain. Actually, in this case, I suspect I didn’t view the flick because it got bad reviews and flopped at the box office.

Even with a modest budget of $19 million, Stepmother lost money. It grossed less than $14 million, a sum that landed it at 70th on the 1988 US box office chart.

I suspect the title turned me off as well. It’s not a given that a film with a campy moniker like My Stepmother Is An Alien will be a dopey piece of cheese, but it doesn’t inspire me with confidence.

In any case, this 2021 Blu-ray finally plops the film in front of me, 33 years after its release. Did I miss anything good over all those years?

Nah – not really. Despite occasional moments of mirth, Stepmother generally feels pretty forgettable.

As noted at the start, Stepmother gives us a high concept tale, and it milks that concept for all it’s worth. The film barely bothers with a plot, as it focuses on its “fish out of water” notions in an aggressive manner.

On occasion, these gags work. For instance, when Celeste tries to chat up Steven at a party, she speaks in nothing but dated pop culture references, and the scene seems so absurd that it generates laughs.

However, a little of this goes a long way, and Stepmother lacks much else to compensate. Sure, it gradually attempts to develop a more “human” side of Celeste, but this seems gratuitous and not especially convincing.

The filmmakers feel much more interested in wacky gags, and this leaves the film with little real substance. As noted, some of the humor fares well at first, but it becomes redundant enough that the film runs out of steam before too long.

It doesn’t help that Stepmother comes with a surprisingly long running time for its genre. A flick like this feels more at home around 85 to 90 minutes, whereas this one stretches to 108 minutes.

The extra time means that the movie really starts to drag. Again, Stepmother devotes much of its space to nutty gags and it barely bothers with much else, so the end product becomes tedious.

Even the title feels problematic, as it implies the story will concentrate on Jessie’s point of view. This doesn’t really occur, so it seems like a weird name for the movie given that it barely takes on that theme.

Basinger offers a pretty effective comedic turn, and it’s fun to see Hannigan, Juliette Lewis and Seth Green in very early parts. However, the movie lacks the substance it needs to sustain entertainment across its 108 minutes.

Footnote: a minor tag bit appears after the end credits.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio C+/ Bonus B-

My Stepmother Is An Alien appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Despite its age, the image looked pretty solid.

For the most part, sharpness worked fine. Occasional soft shots materialized, but the majority of the movie boasted appealing accuracy.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Grain felt natural, and only a handful of small specks cropped up during the movie.

The film opted for a natural palette, and the hues held up fairly well. Though not dazzling, the colors seemed largely well-rendered, and they lacked bleeding or other issues.

Blacks felt fairly dense and deep, while shadows presented largely positive delineation. Give the flick’s vintage, I felt happy with the presentation.

Don’t expect much from the lackluster PCM stereo soundtrack of Stepmother. Music spread to the sides in a positive way, but effects didn’t get as much to do as one might expect from a story with so much sci-fi behind it.

The film boasted occasional instances of localized audio from the right and left, but they remained largely passive. Some movement occurred and the side channels added a bit of interactivity, but they didn’t seem especially active.

Audio quality also seemed a bit lackluster, as the track lacked much range. Music and effects showed reasonable accuracy but dynamics seemed restricted and without much oomph.

Speech largely sounded natural, with only a little edginess along the way. For a movie from 1988, the audio felt adequate and not much more.

A few extras flesh out the disc, and these open with an audio commentary from film critic Bryan Reesman. He offers a running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, genre topics and influences, period details, and general thoughts about the film.

Reesman manages an energetic chat, as he speaks a mile a minute. In terms of content, though, the track seems a little spotty.

Oh, Reesman manages a decent number of insights, so he offers a reasonable overview. Still, the commentary doesn’t offer consistent depth, so it seems likeable but erratic.

Cosmetic Encounters spans 14 minutes, eight seconds and provides a new interview with director Richard Benjamin. He discusses how he came onto the project as well as changes he made to the screenplay, cast and performances, influences, various effects, and a few related elements.

Don’t expect the most coherent production overview, as Benjamin skips around a lot. Still, he gives us a decent view of the flick and his efforts.

In addition to the film’s trailer - which actually appears to be a 32-second TV spot - we get an Image Gallery. It shows 12 production stills and seems eminently forgettable.

As a wacky comedy, My Stepmother Is An Alien musters the occasional laugh. However, too much of it becomes repetitive, so the jokes quickly lose impact. The Blu-ray offers pretty good picture, mediocre audio and a few bonus materials. The flick doesn’t flop but it fails to impress, either.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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