Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers.
Monsters are really no more than misunderstood beings. Aliens, therefore, fit into my personal definition of “monsters” because in spite of how hard we may try, we know very little about them. Aliens may be misjudged, their characteristics and personalities unknown, but it is a plain fact that they make movies better.
Here are five films — old and new, good and bad — that I think could benefit from the inclusion of aliens.
“Don’t Worry Darling”
This article is inspired by a discussion following my second “Don’t Worry Darling” viewing. My friend, serious as ever, commented that “It would have been better if Harry Styles was an alien.” They were right.
“Don’t Worry Darling” is the story of housewife Alice (Florence Pugh, “The Wonder”) who is growing increasingly suspicious of the town, Victory, where she and her husband Jack (Harry Styles, “Dunkirk”) reside. Jack supposedly works a 9-5, but isn’t permitted to share details of his job with Alice. After Alice watches another housewife kill herself following abnormal behavior, her suspicion transforms into a sinister certainty that all is not right in Victory.
Spoiler alert — things are not all right in Victory. In fact, things are very, very bad. Criminal, even. It turns out that Alice’s husband is none other than a sick incel, who has taken advantage of his wife, strapped her down in a bed and sent her into a simulation that is figuratively and literally destroying her mind. Not only does director and writer Olivia Wilde (“Booksmart”) promote harmful imagery and messages through her thoughtless and gross representation of sexual assault and coercion, but Wilde also produces a very unexciting, commonplace film. “Don’t Worry Darling” was nothing more than an insecure man ruining his wife’s life, made worse by Styles’s terrible performance.
It’s not difficult to brainstorm how this movie could have been better, but on that endless list, aliens are on top.
Instead of a twisted incel, imagine if Styles was an alien who was desperate to learn from and emulate human life (think “Vivarium” but less disturbing). In this remake, aliens would have kidnapped human women and sent them all into a simulation, where they could learn (outdated) cultural norms and later enter the human world unbeknownst to earthlings. The kicker would have been that alien Styles would have fallen in love with Pugh, and that he would have decided to send her out of the simulation and shut it down once and for all. So much more interesting and nuanced than the original, right?
“Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”
There is simply no way four differently-sized women can fit into the same pair of pants. Unless, of course, they are aliens. Which I think is more reasonable and more logical than the actual conclusion — that said pair of pants is magical.
For those unfamiliar with the story, yes, that is the actual plot. Four best friends from birth are about to spend their first summer apart in 16 years. Lena (Alexis Bledel, “The Handmaid’s Tale”) is going to Greece to visit her family. Bridget (Blake Lively, “The Rhythm Section”) is going to a soccer camp in California. Carmen (America Ferrera, “WeCrashed”) is spending the holiday with her divorced dad. Tibby (Amber Tamblyn, “Nostalgia”) is the only one staying at home. Before they go their separate ways, the girls go on a shopping trip where the aforementioned “magic” pants are found. They do not question the magic pants, but instead accept them and decide to ship the pants to each other throughout the summer, connecting the group across time and space.
Sure, it’s a cute story. But it’s kind of boring and a little silly. Magic pants? Really? Come on. If we are to accept that the four women are aliens instead, a lot of questions can be answered, like how they all fit the same pair of pants, and also how they were all coincidentally born on the same day and how they managed to stay friends throughout the (assumed) challenges and drama that are part of the elementary-through-high-school experience.
The transformation from human to alien would make things become more sinister. Perhaps the girls are able to conceal their alienness when they are together, but struggle to do so when they are apart, especially under tense circumstances. Picture Carmen turning into an alien after sabotaging her new family’s dinner, or Lena dissolving into alienness when her grandparents discover her forbidden relationship. It seems like the addition of alienry would really bring everyone back to Earth (no pun intended) and remind them what’s really important.
“Everything Everywhere All At Once”
Let me get one thing straight: This movie is already near perfect. The last push it needs is aliens, which I don’t think is too outlandish of a suggestion. An alien implication already exists.
“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is an astonishing film starring Michelle Yeoh (“The School for Good and Evil”) as Evelyn Quan Wang, who is basically responsible for the fate of the multiverse. Throughout the film, we watch Evelyn channel her alternate selves as she fights to save her world. In one world, she’s a famous actress. In another, a chef. Each world is subject to the wrath of her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), also known as Jobu Tupaki, who is wreaking havoc as she manipulates and destroys different dimensions.
Given the infinite universes and lives of Evelyn, an alien version of her most definitely exists. If she can be a rock, she can be an alien. (The film almost hit the mark with hotdog finger land, but this universe was rooted in the idea of a disrupted evolution pattern on earth, so it doesn’t count.) So, no, I wouldn’t necessarily change anything crucial about the film; rather, I’d insert an alien sequence in one of the many montages of alternate Evelyns jumping through time and space.
Apologies to former and future Film editors, but “Her” is such a terrible movie. If Joaquin Phoenix (“C’mon C’mon”) was an alien, I might have actually felt something.
Phoenix plays humanoid Theodore Twombly, a peculiar and lonesome man who works in a lifeless business writing letters for others. From “Happy Birthday” cards to love letters, Theodore spends his days pretending to be other people. It sounds monotonous and dull, and it is. It’s so boring. It makes sense why our forlorn Theodore falls in love with a computer (more specifically, an AI with the voice of Scarlett Johansson (“Black Widow”)) — what else was he going to do?
The choice to alienize Theodore would not only skyrocket this film from dreadful to incredible, but would also beg several compelling questions. First, are aliens familiar with our modern-day technology? Second, would an alien think an AI is a fellow alien? Third, could we consider digital assistants to be aliens? Maybe this is nonsense, but it’s got me thinking. Something “Her” wasn’t able to do in its original state.
Man falls in love with his digital assistant: BORING!
Alien falls in love with his digital assistant: INTRIGUE!
I love you, Rachel McAdams (“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”), but I simply find it hard to believe that one person can yield so much power over others in a high school environment. The exception being, of course, if said person is an alien.
“Mean Girls” follows Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan, “Devil May Care”), a new student at North Shore High taken in by a pair of outcasts and later set on a mission to take down queen bee Regina George. McAdams’s Regina terrorizes her fellow students with her two sidekicks, Gretchen Wieners (Lacy Chabert, “Groundswell”) and Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried, “The Dropout”) and is unapologetic in her cruel behavior. Cady’s original intent to mess with Regina’s life morphs into Cady herself taking over Regina’s position as she loses sight of what really matters: friendship, love and all that other stuff.
Yes, “Mean Girls” has confirmed its status as a classic without the presence of aliens, but that doesn’t mean that an alien remake is inconceivable. In this remake, both Cady and Regina would be aliens. Instead of being the new girl, Cady is a first-time alien visitor. Little does she know that Regina herself is an alien who has lived on earth for decades and has tirelessly worked to move up the superficial human rank. It’s why they butt heads so much and why Cady is the only person who is able to cast Regina aside. They’re both aliens, and in this world, there can only be one.
“High School Musical 2”
Managing Arts Editor Lillian Pearce can be reached at email@example.com.