A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that kids will see violence, smoking, and sexual scenes and hear a little peppery language. Four men beat the heck out of an alien before the poor fellow is rescued by Jenny, who carries a gun. Jenny is shot and killed by a cop, and then resurrected by the alien. A small homemade bomb is thrown as a distraction. There's the occasional mild profanity and an obscene finger gesture. Jenny smokes, and the two leads make love with lots of passionate kissing while naked in bed, but no visible nudity. Jenny is impregnated by the alien.
What's the story?
In STARMAN, an alien creature crash-lands on Earth and takes the form of Jenny's late husband, Scott (Jeff Bridges). The alien kidnaps Jenny (Karen Allen) and forces her to drive him to a crater in Arizona, where he has to rendezvous with his kind in three days or die. The feds pursue the pair, headed by agent Sherman, who works hard to save the alien from the army. Along the way, the alien uses magic spheres to get out of awkward situations and to bring a deer, and then Jenny, back from the dead. Not surprisingly, Jenny falls for the gentle, funny stranger. The alien and Jenny have sex, and Jenny is impregnated. The two are captured by state troopers, but Sherman frees them and they make it to the crater where the alien is rescued.
Is it any good?
Starman does a good job of drawing you in and making you root for the gentle extraterrestrial. Of course, the alien who can't understand English (whether he's from another country or another planet) is familiar comic fodder. Here, Jeff Bridges plays it to the hilt, having fun with the word "gas" and other (less childish) linguistic foul-ups. Bridges is strong throughout, bringing an offbeat physicality and charm. Karen Allen gives credible support.
The alien-amongst-us premise is often used to comment on everyday behavior. Here, the alien can't understand why humans hunt deer and uses his powers to bring the animal back to life. How can you help but side with someone who selflessly gives back life to innocent creatures? There are less successful elements in the movie. The alien is conveniently unfamiliar with those English words that allow Jenny to babble on about supposedly significant things like love and beauty. And visually, it's a dark movie; events occur in shadow, and it's occasionally unclear what is happening. Also, there are some plot-advancing moments that strain credulity, such as when a guy throws a bomb to distract the cops, even though he doesn't know Jenny and the alien. On the plus side, the movie might get kids to consider how we should treat strangers.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: December 14, 1984
- On DVD or streaming: August 25, 1998
- Cast: Charles Martin Smith, Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen
- Director: John Carpenter
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Space and Aliens
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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