59 thoughts we had while watching My Stepmother is an Alien

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Dec 9, 2018, 1:00 PM EST

This weekend marks the 30th anniversary of My Stepmother Is an Alien. To celebrate, we're revisiting this salacious sci-fi comedy with a rousing rewatch. Join us!

I can't say for certain how young I was when I first watched My Stepmother Is an Alien, but it's safe to say too young. I was fascinated by its central story about a plucky adolescent girl (Alyson Hannigan well before her Buffy the Vampire Slayer years), who is strangely invested in getting her dad (Dan Aykroyd) to hook up with the hot blonde (Kim Basinger) who is literally out of this world. I have vivid memories of one scene in particular, where the spacy Celeste has to learn about sex from the quipping serpent sidekick who lives in her handbag. What did PG-13 even mean in 1988?

Let's find out.

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  1. Random fun fact: Amazon Video gives top billing to Ann Prentiss ahead of Aykroyd and Basinger. Prentiss is credited as "The Voice of the Bag."
  2.  My Stepmother Is an Alien begin with a Tom Jones cover of Prince's "Kiss." … Is this legal?
  3. "And introducing Alyson Hannigan." Amazing.
  4. The plot begins with bickering old men yammering science jargon at each other while loud playboy Ron (Jon Lovitz) tries to pry away his physicist brother Steven (Aykroyd) to go to a singles bar called Mingles. Pardon me while I shudder.
  5. Steven is in full mad scientist mode! He believes the raging lightning storm will allow him to send a signal to far-flung planets. And thanks to an added jolt from a soggy blazer's buttons it goes even farther than predicted… I'm not a scientist, but I don't think that's how science works.
  6. It seems like a lot of Lovitz's "jokes" will just be yelling.
  7. Oh! It's baby Willow! Okay, Hannigan's character's name is Jessie, but she will be known from here on out as Baby Willow.
  8. '80s screenwriting signals that Baby Willow is cool because she's a GIRL who plays basketball and talks about taking up a paper route. ("Do girls do that now?" says incredulous dad.)
  9. Okay. Steven has been fired, also he's a widowed single dad with no game. But fear not, because space-trekking Kim Basinger is slowly sliding into silk stockings.
  10. "Daddy, look at me. Do you notice anything different about me? I'm wearing a bra!" There are subtler ways to display that Baby Willow is becoming a woman and yearns for a female role model. Allow me to shock you: Not a single one of My Stepmother Is an Alien's four screenwriters is a woman.
  11. Now Steven is wistfully staring at his daughter's chest. "Well, well, well. Where have I been?" Cringe Academy?
  12. "Research shows you must be the most desirable woman on the planet." Earth expert Voice of Purse declares, "Men on Earth will fall to their knees, betray their country, and give away valuable real estate for a desirable woman." Where's the lie?
  13. What does the most desirable woman on the planet wear?
    Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 4.30.16 PM
  14. Celeste has been sent here to get the access code to Steven's radar beam, and she'll use the art of seduction. Which means smoking a carrot like it's a cigar, doing a series of backflips, then dry-humping him while singing the theme song from The Monkees. It works. So maybe try that on your next date? (Warning: results may vary if you don't look like Kim Basinger.)
  16. "I must be boring the pants off you." Celeste checks panties, "No. They're still on." We don't appreciate Basinger's comedy chops enough. She's taking the ditzy bimbo stereotype to strange new places, and it's divine.
  17. 30 years later and we sill don't have purses that'll allow us to insert a magazine and pull out a designer dress. What is even the point of science?
  18. It took 28 minutes for the snake alien to surface. It's more upsetting-looking than I remembered.
  19. I too would like a purse that tosses obnoxious men out windows. Please.
  20. "I just wanted to use everything I know about radio astronomy to protect you." Ugh. That old line.
  21. Like so many of us, Celeste is learning about kissing by watching movies. Like less of us, she's watching movies projected from her sidekick purse, who is sending mixed messages, including animal mating rituals and Three Stooges clips. Still, Basinger makes it sexy.
  22. "You're so wonderful. You're funny. You're intelligent. You're beautiful. And now you want to have sex!?"  Who is this movie for? It's PG-13, but we've only spent a couple of minutes with the kid, who I incorrectly remembered as the protagonist. It seems like a rom-com date movie, except it's less about romance than leering at Celeste as she shimmies in super-snug clothing and throws herself at the male love interest. And there's no eye candy for straight ladies. Aykroyd has worthwhile qualities, I'm sure. But he's never been a knockout. And in this, he doesn't even have punchlines!
  23. Oh here's the sex tutorial. Naturally, it begins by comparing penises to guns. And now her purse is spitting out porn VHS tapes. Oh, the '80s.
  24. For the sex scene, Basinger offers her banging body, draped in sinfully thin silk, her hair and lingerie rustled by inexplicable wind.
  25. Here's what Aykroyd brings to the bedroom. 
  26. See, it's funny because while women are held to extremely high beauty standards and subjected to the Male Gaze, men can put in less than zero effort and still be deemed desirable and worthy of literally the hottest woman on the planet.
  27. Ha! I was worried this movie might be vaguely sexist, and I'd be embarrassed for my childhood love of it. Welp! It's extremely sexist. Celeste is the dream girl: gorgeous, DTF, and utterly obsessed with the schlubby everyman. She's the plot. She's the jokes. Meanwhile, he's the straight man with charm. Plus he's an incompetent boob whose experiment only worked because of a freak accident. Which seems to be the point, because it tells every dude watching this: No matter what a loser you are, here's this fantasy where the world's most perfect woman will drool all over you! And bonus: We'll make sure there are no muscular, handsome, or dashing men about to make you feel self-conscious!
  28. Oh, so the screenwriters suspect we're onto their shit. In the afterglow, Steven asks, "Why me?" And Celeste responds with a monologue, listing off the good qualities the movie has failed to present. "You're sensitive. You're an outsider. You worked so hard to get through MIT. And you have 2 PhDs and a delightful innocence. Just all the qualities of a dreamer." Pardon me. Vomiting.
  29. For all you fans of Aykroyd getting head from a ghost: Good news! He gets head from an alien in this one. Omg. We're only 46 minutes in.
    Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 4.19.13 PM
  30. "They'll just think I'm starting some sort of trend or something." Less than a day on Earth, and she's got our number. To be fair, Celeste, you make this look work.
  31. Steven's reckless experiment has damaged Celeste's planet. I'd like to think that's meant to say something about the dangers of blind ambition or something. But I think that'd be giving this movie too much credit.
  32. "The modern marriage: There are no rules or responsibilities. But if he does something wrong, you can set him on fire while he sleeps and go on a talk show where everyone will forgive you and love you." Uh-huh. Women have it real easy in the '80s.
  33. Her bosses direct her to keep "that man fed" and "his feet clean." Can I just switch over to Earth Girls Are Easy? That's a romantic sci-fi comedy from 1988. And that one had THREE hot men who were also funny!
  34. Why is the title from Baby Willow's perspective when she only shows up to look pleased that her dad's getting laid?
  35. 57 minutes in, Baby Willow finally has something to do. She sees Celeste eat D batteries, chugging 'em like a beer. But her dad thinks Celeste is from Holland. So that explains when she buries her purse on the lawn or whatever. It's basically ripping off his old Saturday Night Live Coneheads bit. ("We come from... Holland!")
  36. Now we're jumping from the wedding to the happy family readying Baby Willow for a date night. And OMG! IT'S BABY OZ!
  37. Question: If you could have a purse that chucks bothersome men and 3D prints dresses, would you commit to guzzling car batteries over eating real food?
  38. This is getting depressing. Celeste wants Steven to go to work so she can fix her planet. But the clueless doof keeps coming up with excuses. So she's cooking, cleaning, and banging him to try to get him to get back on the job. She made a turkey. And she married one.
  39. Okay. An hour and 12 minutes in the focus is shifting to Baby Willow's quest to prove Celeste is an alien. Also, Celeste's sidekick is called "Bag."
  40. Hey, Steven may have negligently threatened an entire planet. But Baby Willow warns he will be SUPER sad to learn that his whirlwind romance with the mysterious hot lady was all a lie! Please remember the feels of men are our greatest natural resource and must be preserved at all costs.
  41. This movie is trash. But props to Hannigan for giving her all to this tearful confrontation, demanding her dumbass dad recognize what's up.
  42. "You gave yourself away to save my life!" This movie is still trash. But I am beginning to understand why I clung to it. As sexist and leering as it is, Celeste is funny and beautiful. And just like Baby Willow, I looked up to her. She's cool and weird! Plus, Baby Willow's frustration about not being heard, and her eventual bonding with Celeste is moving!
  43. "You mean I married a virgin! Oh mother would be proud." Aykroyd has finally cracked a joke. At least I think this is meant to be a joke.
  44. Celeste discovering the pleasure of sandwiches and whiskey is a big mood.
  45. I propose a remake, properly centered on Baby Willow and Celeste. Basinger and Hannigan get fun cameos. Aykroyd and Lovitz are banned. The womanizer brother can stay in the '80s. The deeply dumb dad can be recast to be funny and hot. I'm thinking Chris Pine.
  46. This movie is still happening for another 22 minutes.
  47. BAG HAS GONE ROGUE! She's manipulating horny dirtbag Ron with promises of "matters of the flesh." Excuse me. Vomiting again.
  48. Update: All of Lovitz's jokes are yelling.
  49. Steve is literally cheering, "Science! Science!"
  50. Steve has chucked bag into electricity which made his eye giant and then turned into a video call with Celeste's bosses. Because… science (science)?
  51. The "science" of the plot boils down to the same logic that hitting someone in the head once gives them amnesia, but hitting them again erases it. Shoot her planet once -- impending doom! Shoot it again, we're good. Naturally, how Celeste convinces her overlords not to destroy Earth is to do a Jimmy Durante impression.  Ha chich cha cha cha cha.
  52. Basinger deserved so much better than this.
  53. This movie is still happening.
  54. "This Earth deserves more study. It's too weird to be destroyed." The alien overlords have discovered sneezing. Orgasms may bring their civilization to its knees.
  55. Happy ending: They saved both planets. Celeste gets to stay on Earth. And even though he's a massive creep and has even less redeeming qualities than his idiot brother, Ron gets a complacent alien woman who looks like his dream girl, Princess Stephanie. Actually, he gets a fleet of them. And hey, they're all really impressed with his car. Because sure, why not.
  56. This movie is still happening.
  57. Steve just suggested he's going to go bang Celeste again. Baby Willow is pretty stoked for her dad. Teen girls, amirite?
  58. Steve's gone to bed to wait for Celeste. And the final moment of the film is her and Baby Willow playing basketball. How nice -- oh wait. Scratch that. The final moment is gross Ron surrounded by fawning alien women, who are utterly elated with his mediocrity.
  59. Upside: This movie is over.
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