White Nights: Another amazing 80s movie I somehow overlooked
What if the pagan gods are real?

Starman: a pedictable, trope-laden space alien slog

Working my way through my 10-DVD set of 80s movies, I decided to take a look at Starman.  All I knew about it was that Jeff Bridges was in it.  For those who don't know, he was one of the leaden men of that era, popping up in all manner of films, from Tron to Against All Odds

Anyway, I realized that Karen Allen was also in the film, and she was pretty much the archetypal Cute Girl Next Door of that era.  Alas, she doesn't really get to play to her type, and much of the film she's either lost in depression or struggling to control her mortal terror.  It's not a good look for her.

The plot is of course that Jeff Bridges is a space alien who comes to earth and assumes the form of Allen's recently departed husband.  Naturally there are language issues, cultural issues and all the other aspects of the Fish Out of Water trope that make it worth watching.  In this case, of course, we have to believe that a creature of pure energy and capable of god-like healing and destruction is completely clueless about basic social interaction because humans are weird or something.

Bridges' facial expressions, jerky motions and oddly-inflected voice are impressive, though.  It's a very different role for him, but he does it well.  The problem is that the story is weak sauce, since we've seen the "advanced race comes to earth and the government tries to kill/dissect it" several other times.

One element that really bugged me was the portrayal of the "common" humans the pair encounter.  These are terrible, completely unbelievable tropes.

For example, a pair of cops are given instructions merely to hang back and let "the feds" handle a situation, but they try to engineer an incident so they can get "their share of the headlines."

Yes, you have that right: they're going to try to create a confrontation rather than hang back because they somehow think this will result in favorable media coverage.  Sure.

Another truly awful portrayal is of a hunter who ties a dead doe to the front fender of his car without gutting it and - having done so - goes into a diner for a bite to eat.  You know, so the meat can get good an rancid or something.

A movie like this depends on the 'slice of life' scenes being good enough to carry you through the sci-fi elements and when you get served up garbage like this, the whole enterprise falls flat.

I'd rather watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which at least has a decent soundtrack.


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