What a delightful little find.
“Starman” is another early ’80s sci-fi flick, like “The Last Starfighter,” that isn’t a great movie, but it is a pretty good one.
The film opens in space; we of planet Earth have sent out a satellite loaded with language primers and an invitation for intelligent life to come visit us. Well, one traveling spaceman (Jeff Bridges) decides to take us up on the offer, but when he’s coming in for a landing, his ship is diverted; instead of landing in Arizona (poor guy), he finds himself in the backwoods of Wisconsin.
He stumbles upon one Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen), a woman who is still struggling to deal with the accidental death of her husband Scott (also Bridges). The Starman sifts through her house before stumbling upon some of Scott’s DNA and takes his form to better adapt to Earth-living.
But, he’s still got an appointment to keep, so he forces Jenny to give him a lift to Arizona, and from there, a basic sci-fi setup turns into an unlikely road trip movie, complete with some government baddies on their tail.
What happens next isn’t surprising, but what director John Carpenter manages to do is. Jenny is no dummy; she continually tries to escape, using direct and subtle means. Of course, she comes to realize that this alien, for all his other-ness and power, is just a baby who needs her to help him. Yes, it’s a love story, every story is a love story, but while it’s a rushed, it feels real.
Bridges received an Oscar nomination for his role, and he, like Allen, completely sells his character. When he first regenerates, he walks like a man using his muscles for the first time; he stumbles through language like a child does; he even uses his powers like a kid, over the top but effective. Just like Jenny, we grow to love this creature that wants nothing more than to see the best of our species.
Not bad for B-movie. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Directed by John Carpenter
Written by Bruce A. Evans, Raynold and Dean Riesner
Starring: Jeff Bridges (Starman)
Jenny (Karen Allen)