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Thursday, September 15, 2011

My 100 Worst Movies of the 90's - 86 - Coneheads (1993)

Wayne’s World was an example of an SNL sketch-to-film transition that worked. It had likeable characters, a believable plot and a sort of warmth that was unexpected given its source material. It had a direction and a driving plot that focused the story to its conclusion. Coneheads was the polar opposite of Wayne's World. A film that tries to cram in as many characters and subplots as possible, Coneheads is all over the place, and we never get a chance to care about the characters because they are, for the most part, emotionless (as the character dictates) and are therefore really, really boring.

The overlying plot focuses on INS agents played by Michael Mackean and David Spade who are trying to determine where the Coneheads came from as they seem to be the only people unconvinced by their excuse that they came from France. From that we branch off into countless subplots featuring far too many characters portrayed by every SNL cast member who lacked the sense to say "No!" to this project. There is the typical high school romance between their daughter Connie (played by Michelle Burke, who was born on Earth and is very much acclimated to the humans’ way of life) and Ronnie (Chris Farley), scenes of Beldar (Dan Aykroyd) and Prymatt (Jane Curtin) interacting with their neighbors, Dave Thomas’ alien overlord trying to organize their extraction from Earth and countless (and boy do I mean countless) pointless cameos.

One of the things that made the Coneheads sketch funny was that it was inexplicable. It was just sort of there, and we laughed at the bizarre display. So when Lorne Michaels (who seems to get some strange enjoyment out of seeing his shows most popular sketches get skewered on film) decided to "flesh out" the story, Bluntskulls everywhere were banging their heads in frustration. Just because something works in a two to four minute sketch doesn’t mean it can make a successful story. I can’t imagine them making a film about the “Crushing Your Head Guy” from the Kids in the Hall (or actually I can, which is kind of scary) because his character is the joke, there is no back-story or plot for that matter. Coneheads is the same way. Just because people laughed at something twenty years before doesn’t mean it justifies a full-length feature.

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