An alien being takes the form of a widow's husband and together they
drive across the country to get him home and avoid the government.
Directed by John Carpenter
Written by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon
Starring Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith,
Oscar Nominations - Best Actor (Jeff Bridges)
Starman may not be Carpenter's best film, but it has enough heart to win over more audiences than anything he's done in the past twenty years. Despite being a blatant rip-off of E.T., Starman is a decent film with a few problems, namely a pacing issue, a lack of good antagonists, and an abrupt ending. Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen have great chemistry, and Bridges sells the whole alien thing perfectly. I won't say I didn't enjoy it, but it definitely left me wanting more.
The premise is simple enough, yet it's somehow amplified by Carpenter's flawless score and expert direction. An alien observer must get back to his own planet, so he assumes the form of a widow's recently deceased husband and then falls in love with her. It's amusing to watch Bridges fumble his way through the simplest of human tasks as an alien being learning everything for the first time. Unfortunately, this is where 90% of the film's content comes from. We get very little information on his homeworld or what his race is doing on Earth. The government agents are even worse. All we get is a one-dimensional army guy who wants the alien dead and the SETI guy who wants to study it alive. There's nothing special there, it's been done a million times.
I wanted very much to like Starman. I'm a big fan of Carpenter and of Jeff Bridges, and there were parts of the film I enjoyed very much. It just felt so predictable that it was starting to get boring towards the end, which felt so rushed and out of place that I didn't even know it was over until the credits started to roll. I felt like I'd seen this movie before a dozen times. There's very little to make me want to sit through it again.