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Film: Starman

Mark Shermin: "Have people from your world been here before?"
Starman: "Before. Yes, we are interested in your species."
Mark Shermin: "You mean you're some kind of anthropologist? Is that what you're doing here? Just checking us out?"
Starman: "You are a strange species, not like any other... and you'd be surprised how many there are. Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you?"

John Carpenter's Starman is a kind of E.T. for adults, played as a Road Movie of all things. Fans will argue that it's a beautiful, beautiful love story between a man from the stars (Jeff Bridges) and an Earthling woman (Karen Allen) while dissenters will argue that it's a mediocre Cliché Storm.

Starman arrives on Earth as a result of Earth having transmitted welcome messages to any alien life, and clones himself an environment suit — the naked form of Jenny Hayden's dead husband. She is very freaked out by this, and at first only wants to get away from the freaky dead ringer for her dead husband. But she (eventually) agrees to take him to Arizona, where he has his only chance to meet up with the other aliens and go home. Naturally, this leads to a long road trip (Starman has gotten dressed by this point) involving a lot of learning about life on Earth, bonding and ultimately romance.

As usual, the military has it in for friendly aliens. They are led by the hard-as-nails George Fox (Richard Jaeckel) who wants to dissect or kill Starman. His obligatory Morality Pet Mark Shermin (Charles Martin Smith) vainly attempts to convince him to do otherwise.

The movie was followed by a Walking the Earth television series starring Robert Hays of Airplane! fame.

Not to be confused with the Robot Master from Mega Man 5, or the enemies from the first two Mother games. Definitely NOT to be confused with the DC Comics hero(es) of that name.

This film provides examples of:

  • Academy Award: Jeff Bridges got nominated for Best Actor, which is remarkably in two ways: it's in the Sci-Fi Ghetto, and it's the only Academy Award nomination that any of John Carpenter's films have earned.
  • Alien Among Us
  • Aliens in Cardiff: Alien in Chequamegon Bay, Wisconsin
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: invoked Invoked in-universe, as Shermin learns: "He yelled 'Greetings!' and melted his lug wrench?!"
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: After he and Jenny made love on the train, Starman proclaims "I gave you a baby tonight." Jenny says that this is impossible because she is incapable of having a child. Starman explains that he used his powers to alleviate this.
  • The Eighties: Retconned to The Seventies in the TV show so that Jenny's kid could be a teen in the contemporary 1980s.
  • Fish out of Water: Starman, obviously.
  • Full-Name Basis: Starman does this with Jenny.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Shermin blows smoke in Fox's face after arranging for Jenny and Starman to get away.
  • Green Aesop: Starman doesn't approve of deer hunting.
    • It has less to do with hunting and more to do with the alien's concept of death - there is no death, survival or even food consumption where he comes from, so he's shocked that a living creature would willingly kill another.
    Starman: (upset) Why do you do this?
  • Humanity Is Infectious
  • Human Aliens: Starman takes on human form while on Earth, his natural form being a floating blob of light.
  • Humans Are Special: As usual.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: As usual.
  • Interspecies Romance: Possibly a subversion as Starman in human form seems to be almost biologically indistinct from human - after all, he and Jenny managed to reproduce. Could be justified by his body, a copy of her husband, essentially being a clone that is just that biologically accurate.
  • Klingons Love Shakespeare: Starman can't get enough of Dutch apple pie, to the point that eating it is nearly a sexual experience for him.
  • Male Restroom Etiquette: Starman becomes quite interested in seeing a man use the urinal at a gas station's men's room, much to the man's annoyance.
    Men's Room Guy: *sigh* Every god-damn place you go...
  • Naked on Arrival: Starman.
  • No Name Given: Starman never gives his name and is never referred to as anything, not even "Starman" (although that is how he's named in the credits).
  • Quiet Cry for Help: While Starman is compelling Jenny to drive him to Arizona, they make a rest stop at a filling station. Jenny scrawls a distress message in lipstick on the mirror. Starman then inspects the ladies room and sees the message, but has to ask Jenny what "kidnapped" means.
  • Quizzical Tilt: Starman spends most of the movie this way given he is learning the human experience as he goes, and everything is therefore bewildering and confusing to him.
  • Recycled: The Series: The aforementioned short-lived TV show.
  • Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: Averted. In the beginning Voyager II arrives at a "planet", leading the viewer to think this trope - there are no planets that look like that within the distance Voyager II traveled in the amount of timenote , however at the end of the film it is revealed that wasn't a planet, it was a starship.
  • Second Face Smoke: Shermin does this to Fox after allowing Starman to escape.
    Fox: Shermin, you are finished. I will have you eviscerated for this.
    Shermin: Well, as much as I hate to stoop to symbolism...
    (Shermin takes a puff from his cigar and blows smoke into Fox's face)

SplashFilms of the 1980sStop Making Sense

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