(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Movie: Coneheads
Where You Can Stream It: Netflix
The Pitch: The alien family that originated on Saturday Night Live gets a full fledged feature film. Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin reprise their roles as the parental units of an alien family with cone-shaped heads. After their ship crash lands just outside of Manhattan, the two are forced to raise a daughter on Earth while waiting many years for a rescue vessel and acclimating to a human lifestyle as best they can.
Why It’s Essential Viewing: Movies based on Saturday Night Live movies either knock it out of the park or strike out hard. Coneheads is one of the best examples of how to take a comedy sketch and adapt it to a feature film. Though this is a movie where following alien couple trying to live life as humans on the surface, Coneheads is also a movie about an immigrant family following the American dream, and there’s even the government that’s trying everything in its power to upend that dream, drawing unfortunately still relevant parallels to today’s culture. And it’s also still incredible funny and packs an ensemble of some of the best comedians from Saturday Night Live and beyond.
What you probably remember most about Coneheads is Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin putting on almost automaton-like voices as Beldar and Prymaat Conehead, a last name that lacks subtlety in every way and fits perfectly in with how oddly they try to fit in with humans of Earth (their real last name is Clorhone, in case you ever need that to win an obscure trivia night). Then you might remember Michelle Burke as their daughter Connie (a role played by Laraine Newman on SNL, but she makes an appearance as another coneheaded alien elsewhere in the movie), and her odd romance with an auto mechanic bro played by Chris Farley. Meanwhile, Michael McKean and David Spade are in hot pursuit as agents of Immigration and Naturalization Service.
But what you might not remember are all the famous faces that appear throughout. We won’t pinpoint who all of these comedians play, because it’ll be fun for you to rewatch see that for yourself, but here’s who you can keep an eye for, some in key supporting roles, others in bit parts or cameos: Phil Hartman, Adam Sandler, Sinbad, Jason Alexander, Lisa Jane Persky, Dave Thomas, Garrett Morris, Drew Carey, Kevin Nealon, Michael Richards, Eddie Griffin, Jan Hooks, Julia Sweeney, Tom Arnold, Tim Meadows, Jon Lovitz, Parker Posey, and Ellen DeGeneres. What?! That’s a stacked comedy cast. It’s rare to get a comedy cast of that caliber together in a single movie, especially when so many of them just play small parts.
Coneheads is undoubtedly silly, but Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin play these goofy characters so earnestly and with such an endearing heart that you can’t help but love them. It’s kind of a miracle that we got a comedic feature film this good when this could have easily been turned into a shitty network sitcom back in the 1990s that tried to replicate the success of the original SNL sketches. It’s not quite the best Saturday Night Live movie, but it’s easily in the top five.
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