Story: Steve Mills (Dan Aykroyd) is a widowed, lonely man who works in astronomy, though his ambition to explore the cosmos is often too much for his bosses. He always wants to push the boundaries and see what can be found, while the administration worries about budget line items and such, rather than the advancement of science. While his bosses want to reign him in, Mills finds little ways to push more than he should, always making sure to never go far enough to get into too much trouble. But when one of his experiments causes some disruptions in deep space, the power used and stress on the equipment are too much to ignore. Meanwhile, an alien race happens to notice the disruption and sends an agent to our planet, to uncover the source and secure the secrets to how it was done. But when Celeste (Kim Basinger) arrives on earth, she doesn’t blend in and instead, begins an outlandish adventure in human culture, including a romance of sorts with Mills, who has no idea this captivating new presence in his life is here because of his research.
Entertainment Value: No one will mistake My Stepmother is an Alien for cinematic high art, but it is a fun movie and one that continues to entertain, even decades down the road. The story is of course outlandish, but that sets up all the humor and light romantic elements, so it does what it needs to do, which is what matters. If anything, I’d have liked even more wackiness and over the top moments, as those were, at least to me, the movie’s high points. I think the goofiness works because the cast gets the material, so most of the main players lean into the silliness, especially Basinger, who is reason enough alone to give this a look. That’s not to say that all the humor lands, as that certainly isn’t the case, but I think more scenes work than don’t, provided you can appreciate the over the top nature of the script and performances in those moments. I admit the movie is silly and predictable, so no, it won’t dazzle with prose or depth, though I don’t think many viewers expect a movie of this kind of stand out for more than laughs and some warmth. So if you like wacky, corny comedies about aliens, romance, and the cutthroat astronomer field, My Stepmother is an Alien is recommended.
I think the highlight of My Stepmother is an Alien is Kim Basinger, who really embraces the role of the misplaced comic visitor here. She really nails the absurd elements of Celeste’s character, which leads to some very humorous interactions and awkward moments. And frequent readers know how much I love awkward dialogue and exchanges. I know her performance is over the top and campy at times, but it works, as this movie is on the cheese end of the spectrum quite often, the perfect home for this kind of wacky effort. Basinger’s comic timing is on point as well, which is what makes some of the best scenes work so well, as she flows into these typical situations, drops her offbeat humor, then drifts out with ease, leaving an awkward vibe behind. Dan Aykroyd is also fun to watch here as the nerdy guy who finds himself with his charismatic, odd new woman in his life. The two have good comedic chemistry and also handle the romantic touches well also. The cast also includes Seth Green, Alyson Hannigan, Juliette Lewis, and Joseph Maher.