Earthbound (2012)

It took several hours after I saw this one before it finally dawned on me that it resembled Martin Gooch’s 2013 comedy, The Search for Simon .  After all, both deal with a young man obsessed with events from his childhood that connect him to aliens from outer space.

And yet there is surprisingly little in common between these two very funny and idiosyncratic films.

Rafe Spall plays Joe Norman, the last child of Zalaxon and the last hope of the Resistance fighting the evil Lord Xalador, in hiding from the bounty hunters sent out find him and take him back home to be sacrificed in a terrible ritual.

At least, that’s what his Father told him when he was eleven.

Fifteen years after his Father’s death, he is a lonely comic book store clerk, afraid to get involved in the world around him for fear he’ll be found.  He’s disconsolate because he just watched the wormhole connecting our world to Zalaxon open and the beacon telling him it is safe to come home never appeared.  But his Father’s hologram tells him to keep waiting and not try to find that near-impossibility, an Earth woman at least 85% compatible with his alien DNA.

But then a cute girl, Maria (Jenn Murray) appears at the shop one day to sell off her childhood collection of vintage SF toys and he learns she is 94% compatible!

Joe is forced to navigate the complex world of human relationships despite his total lack of skills, and somehow win her without ever revealing the truth about his alien origins.

But what happens when the Alien Bounty hunters finally show up (or are they merely representatives from his new employer’s upper management?)?  How will Maria react when he is forced to tell her the truth?  Can Joe accept that his past is all a delusion?

And what exactly is the truth?

First time writer/director Alan Brennan creates a lighthearted and quirky romantic comedy (with a few fairly dark twists) of the sort that American’s just can’t seem to make, with two appealing leads and a goofy and inventive approach to the material (I particularly liked one gag near the end involving a “memory wiper” disguised as a camera flash).

Genuinely funny romantic comedies are rare enough, and good SF comedies are even rarer, but films that carry off both at once and make it look easy?

Well, I just hope we will be seeing more of Alan in the future.

(For other, similar if unique British SF comedies, see here).




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