Film / Coneheads

A 1993 comedy film based on the Saturday Night Live sketches about the titular Coneheads. The film was directed by Steve Barron and produced by Lorne Michaels. As was the case with the previous SNL skit-inspired film The Blues Brothers, Coneheads has been said to have made an "accidental" or "unintentional" political statement or social commentary about the nature of the immigrant experience in America, the filmmakers' ostensible intent being merely to entertain. Coneheads remains the only SNL-related film to date to receive a PG rating.

The film stars Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin as Beldar and Prymaat Clorhone (who later Anglicize their Remulakian surname to "Conehead"), parents of Connie (Michelle Burke, taking over the role played by Laraine Newman on SNL). Michael McKean and David Spade play INS officials; also appearing are Sinbad and SNL alumni Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, Tim Meadows, Jon Lovitz, Peter Aykroyd, Tom Davis, Garrett Morris, Chris Farley, Laraine Newman, Kevin Nealon, Julia Sweeney, and Adam Sandler.

Other supporting cast members include Jason Alexander and Lisa Jane Persky. Alexander's Seinfeld co-star, Michael Richards, makes a cameo appearance, as do Eddie Griffin, Joey Lauren Adams, Parker Posey, Ellen DeGeneres, Drew Carey, Dave Thomas, and Tom Arnold.

The movie largely took place in Paramus, New Jersey, with scenes also shot in New York City and the New Jersey towns of Jersey City, and Wrightstown.

Coneheads provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Beldar sort of qualifies. He impresses all of his bosses with his work skills, easily fixes his neighbors lawn mower within seconds, wins a golf trophy, and even successfully narfles the Garthok, something implied to have never been accomplished before. It's a wonder he needed to take his car to an auto repair shop.note  And he even learned perfect conversational French to keep up the "We come from France" charade.
  • Adaptation Expansion: This movie is based off of a series of skits on Saturday Night Live.
    • 22 years later Dan Ackroyd and Jane Curtin reunited for a 2015 series of Conehead ads for State Farm Insurance.
  • Alien Among Us: Beldar and Pryymat ended up stranded on Earth for many years.
  • Alien Invasion: Beldar and Pryymat arrive to Earth with this goal in mind, but Beldar screws it up and ends up stranded. Of course, it's not clear how two Remulakians are expected to take over a world of billions.
  • Big Eater: The Coneheads engage in consumption of mass quantities.
    • Buzzsaw Jaw: ...and when they do, they tend to do it very quickly.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Played for hilarity!
  • Black Dude Dies First: The disgraced guardsman played by Tim Meadows. He's the first to try narfling the Garthok, and it... Doesn't go too well.
  • Brutal Honesty: Beldar and Prymaat, often.
    Larry: Wanna know a little secret? Not all my own hair. Hard to tell, isn't it?
    Beldar: Only from very high altitudes.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp"
    Prymaat: (doing a newspaper crossword) What is a seven-letter word for a tomb in ancient Egypt which is a quadrilateral masonry mass having smooth, steeply-sloping sides meeting at an apex?
    Beldar: A flendar.
    Prymaat: Ahh! (happily fills in the crossword)
    • With some crossword puzzles *cough*London Times*cough* this makes perfect sense.
  • The Cameo: Tons of them, in fact.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Beldar's golf skills come in handy when he's forced to narfle the Garthok back on Remulak.
  • Cigar-Fuse Lighting: Beldar does this when he lights the fuse to a tiny homemade firework...that produces a massive explosion.
  • Comicbook Adaptation
  • Comic Sutra: Remulakian reproduction can come across as this. Better have some Senso Rings ready.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The entire film is a metaphor for the immigrant experience, from trying to assimilate, taking shitty jobs to make ends meet, having a second generation kid who is more American than her former country, to re-visiting the homeland, dealing with INS on a constant basis, and so on. (Well, maybe...)
  • Exact Words: At the end, Beldar pulls Ronnie aside to "have fifty-five words with him." He does, in fact, say exactly 55 words to him.
  • Expospeak Gag:
    • Along with Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness and Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp", composes almost all the Conehead dialog.
    • Interesting in that no one seems to have any trouble interpreting these gags.
      Prymaat: We will ignite our new flame pit and char some mammal flesh for you.note 
      Lisa Farber (neighbor): That sounds like fun. I'll make some coleslaw.
    • Some of the humor comes from them mixing in not-so-loquacious speech, such as Beldar referring to a "broken down, rusted old shitbox" of a car.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Coneheads can eat toilet paper, spark plugs, and anything humans can eat, and they tend to be both Big Eatera and Fast eaters.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Coneheads are capable of eating many things. For one, Beldar ate the soap and toilet paper in their motel room. He even fixes a lawnmower by sucking off all the trapped grease and gunk from an important part. That being said, Prymaat coughs up dust instead of swallowing it when she vacuums the house with her mouth (and a vacuum cleaner hose attachment).
  • Fantastic Racism: The Coneheads call ordinary humans "blunt-skulls".
  • Fed to the Beast: One of the sentences on Remulak.
  • Good Parents: Seriously. Beldar and Prymaat actually forfeit their newly-obtained privileged status on Remulak and fake their own deaths simply to give Connie the life on Earth she wants. As Beldar tells her, "After all, it's not every day that a father can give the world to his young one..."
  • Happily Married: Beldar and Prymaat are probably one of the best examples you could ask for... and that's in spite of the fact that they regularly engage in Brutal Honesty with each other. Just how much they're like a loving married couple is what lets the audience empathize despite all the humor revolving around how alien they are.
  • Hollywood Jehovah's Witness: Seedling and Eli impersonate Jehovah's Witnesses to infiltrate the Coneheads' house. They have the unbelievable bad timing to do it on the very day the Coneheads' rescue ship arrives.
    Prymaat: Some Earth weapons are not so useless.
    Beldar: (under his breath) Mebs, drop it.
  • Imagine Spot: Beldar fantasizes about winning a golf trophy (and said trophy grows a conical head when he does.)
  • Inhumanable Alien Rights: Subverted. INS Deputy Commissioner Gorman Seedling does not care they are aliens, and treats them like humans. In fact, he treats them exactly like illegal immigrants, although would probably be at a loss how to deport them.
    Eli Turnbull: Excuse me sir, but should they be in fact, creatures from another planet, isn't that the Air Force's responsibility?
    Gorman Seedling: If they're just visiting, sure... but the minute they try to work here, they're mine!
  • I Am One of Those, Too: After Prymaat and Beldar give the "we come from France" line to a disguised Seedling, he tries to trap them by speaking in French. Luckily, they apparently prepared for this and continue the conversation in perfect French.
  • Inspector Javert: Subverted. Seedling is seemingly obsessed with detaining and deporting the Coneheads, but he dropped their case early in his career. His career is unable to move forward because he never closed the case.
  • Ironic Echo: Beldar is driving Connie and her girlfriends who turn on the radio and sing along wildly to Tainted Love, which Beldar finds loathsome. Later, when Beldar must fight a coneheaded monster, he starts singing that song. It's not like it came in handy like a Chekhov's Gun since singing that song would cause the Garthok to better zero in on Beldar's hiding place, but it does set the stage for the aforementioned Chekhov's Skill.
  • Jabba Table Manners: Subverted, sort of. When Connie scarfs a whole hoagie in about ten seconds, her boyfriend doesn't see it as rude at all, though he is rather impressed. (In fact, this is only one of many examples where she and her parents' odd behavior seems to go strangely unnoticed by humans.)
    • Well, Ronnie does say his own Mother 'can take a sub like that'.
  • Joisey
  • "Jump Off a Bridge" Rebuttal: Beldar Conehead's reaction at his daughter's fake tattoo on her cone.
    Connie: It's just a decal, everyone's wearing them.
    Beldar: If everyone jumped into a bitumnious cauldron, would you jump in too?
    Connie: I am not a little cone anymore, dad!
  • Jurisdiction Friction:
    • When INS operatives Seedling and Eli are discussing the possibility that the Coneheads might be aliens, Eli asks if their case should be handled by the Air Force. Seedling gives a somewhat probable counterargument for INS jurisdiction.
    Seedling: If they're just visiting, sure. But the minute they try to work here, they're mine.
    • Fair for Its Day, of course, but these days, Homeland Security would trump that argument.
  • Microts: The Remulak unite of time known as the zerl. Seven of them constitute about sixteen Earth years.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: The trailer revealed that Beldar first claimed to "come from France" when a man he drove in his taxinote  asked where he came from, and Beldar noticed a bus with an advertisement for France on its side.
  • Morality Pet: Beldar has only a few misgivings about conquering Earth, as was his original mission, but seeing a depressed Connie convinces him to scare off the war fleet from Earth so they can remain on Earth as a normal family.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Beldar demonstrated how many teeth Coneheads have when he went to the dentist to get them capped... all four rows of them. And he can open his mouth reeeeeeally wide.
  • Motor Mouth: The entire Conehead family, though Beldar is the worst offender. Even Connie can fall into this, though she speaks in a more American dialect.
  • My Brain Is Big: The aliens have huge heads shaped like cones. That is why they are so intelligent.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Beldar and other Remulaks often exhibits behavior like this, being aliens. Once Beldar has been informed that Earthlings dislike having their personal space invaded, he often seems to use this to his advantage.
  • Omniglot: Seedling speaks French, surprising even Eli. He uses it in an attempt to poke a hole in the Coneheads' story, except they have already covered that eventuality.
  • Overprotective Dad: Although he does warm up to Connie's boyfriend by the end of the movie, Beldar can be quite the Overprotective Dad in his own peculiar way (and backed up by Super Strength):
    (Beldar tears open the roof to Ronnie's car)
    Ronnie: H-hi, Mr. Conehead.
    Beldar: I find you unacceptable!
    Ronnie: Yes, sir.
    Beldar: If I did not fear incarceration from human authority figures, I would terminate your life functions by applying sufficient pressure to your blunt skull so as to force its collapse!note 
    Ronnie: Th-thank you.
  • Paying in Coins: Prymaat zaps a vending machine and they use the quarters to pay for a motel room.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The Coneheads in the original skit were almost a Shallow Parody of Vulcans mixed with Mork. The movie has them emote a lot more (so that they're more relatable and watchable), has Connie act like an American girl (rather than exactly like her parents), and has the Coneheads at least try to blend in aside from claiming to be from France.
  • Precision F-Strike: Towards the end, when Beldar takes Ronnie aside to "have fifty-five words with him."note 
    Beldar: "Take my car, its re-enforced alloy superstructure is far superior to that of your broken down, rusted out shit box."
  • Product Placement: Connie's consumption of mass quantities involves her downing an entire Subway footlong in three bites. Subway even promoted the movie with their "Mass Quantities Meal Deal".
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Seedling's assistant Turnbull (David Spade). He even manages to become a confidant to the leader of the Coneheads' people after he and his boss are captured and enslaved.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Beldar gives one to Connie's future boyfriend Ronnie at the auto shop when he's told his car isn't ready. And it is awesome.
    Beldar: Unacceptable. Not only have you delayed my departure from here, but the entire sequence of events which was to follow. What reason could you have for such deception?!
  • Ready for Lovemaking: Prymaat, after consuming mass quantities of women's magazines looking for advice on how to keep Beldar interested in her.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Beldar not only tells his first boss that he's an illegal alien, but admits that he's a space alien. The guy doesn't believe him. (Well, whether Beldar was actually trying to be sarcastic or had not yet learned that it was best to lie about that is unclear.)
  • Screaming Birth: Connie's birth is accompanied by oceans of fluid, truly epic mugging from her mother Prymaat, and glass-shattering howls. Considering that her biological readings at that point are apparently enough to cause Earth medical machines to howl like a red alert and fling sparks, the screaming's likely justified. Also literally crushing her husband's hand as she shouts "I hate you, Beldar! I hate yoooou!" And then Beldar, when asked by the obstetrician if he would like to cut the umbilical cord (and being offered a pair of scissors to do so), leans in and bites clean through it the old-fashioned way. Cue the obstetrician's humorous fainting.
  • Serious Business: It's, apparently, high treason for a Remulakian to alter his teeth... er, tralns in any way. Beldar forgets this.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Another side-effect of being from Remulak, summed up in the ending:
    Prymaat: Say "lactate extract of hoofed mammal!"
    Connie and Ronnie: Cheese!
  • Skewed Priorities: Seedling isn't concerned that he has been abducted and enslaved by aliens, and continues to rant about illegal immigration in America must be controlled.
  • Stay with the Aliens
    • Inverted. Beldar chooses to stay on Earth, rather than trying to conquer it. Making it an interstellar inversion of Going Native.
    • Seedling's assistant does in fact stay with the aliens, albeit not of his own free will; he does seem to be adapting very well to being the planetary ruler's new gofer and sycophant by the end, however.
  • Super Strength: Beldar can lift up a car from its back wheels and tear the roof off with his bare hands.
  • Theme Tune Rap: The only way to describe "Conehead Love", featured in the credits and on the soundtrack, which has Beldar and Prymatt essentially reading off the song lyrics in their usual monotonous alien delivery (and Nan Schaeffer singing the chorus). Incidentally, this was the second Theme Tune Rap written for a Dan Aykroyd movie that featured him and a co-star on vocalsnote .
  • Time-Compression Montage: The movie shows Connie's childhood through excerpts of home movies set to Paul Simon's "Kodachrome".
  • Trial by Combat: Beldar is put through a variation of this on a charge of treason when he returns to Remulak, where he has to "narfle the Garthok" (which means, fight a huge monster in an arena). His fondness for golf that he picked up on Earth helps him succeed.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "He will surely cut off my plargh and hand it to me." (Which particular sensitive part of the anatomy the plargh is never is specified.)
    • Also, "honing" as in "You don't have to hone your cone alone" from the "Conehead Love" song in the credits. Conehead sexuality is... kind of strange.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The Coneheads' Bizarre Alien Biology is remarked upon, but no one ever treats it like more than an oddity, rather than obvious signs that they are not human. One human thinks of them as weird, but he's played as an uncouth redneck by Tom Arnold, so it could be people do think they're strange but treat it like someone avoiding pointing out another person's deformity.
  • Up to Eleven: Everything the Coneheads do is exaggerated from human forms. Everything, from eating to giving birth.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Seedling doesn't actually seem to be racist (unlike his assistant), and is apparently sincere in his beliefs about why immigration must be controlled. He just takes it too far. Even at the end, with his life literally on the line, he will only agree to give Beldar legal status if it can be done in accordance with established immigration law.
    • Shown Their Work: Specifically, he can fast-track a green card if Beldar can demonstrate a job skill not available in the US. Beldaar immediately agrees (saying it wouldn't be hard to do - and would you doubt him?)
    • Although, he better qualifies for a green card for refugee status. He got sentenced to death by his own government for cultural practices (altering his own teeth), was then forced in military service, and fled to the US to escape. He is a textbook refugee. However, perhaps Seedling doesn't want INS print that they had three refugees from 'Remulak' in official US refugee stats.
  • Wildcard Excuse: The reason that they are so weird is that they are from France.
  • Wrench Wench: Connie, but only because every one of her race is good at mechanics.
    Connie: (almost offhand) How can it take so long to do a simple alignment on an American sedan with standard rack-and-pinion steering and MacPherson struts when your garage is equipped with the proper Borg-Warner digital hydraulic radiometer?
    Ronnie: (smitten) Maybe because I was out back finishing a beer.
  • Yes-Man: Eli Turnbull agrees with everything Seedling tells him. And after becoming a slave on Remulak, treats the High Commander the same way. However, he also makes sure that he's the only one to report to his superior, making him look more like a Hypercompetent Sidekick than a toadie.