Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith, Richard Jaeckel, Robert Phalen, Tony Edwards, John Walter Davis
Written by: Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon
Directed by: John Carpenter
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 115
Date: 12/13/1984

Starman (1984)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Take It Easy

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I've always loved this surprisingly tender, funny movie from John Carpenter, a man otherwise known for his intense horror/genre flicks. It may be the best sci-fi/romance hybrid ever made. An alien arrives on earth and assumes the identity of a dead man, Scott Hayden (Jeff Bridges), much to the shock of the man's pretty young widow, Jenny (Karen Allen). Though the "starman" looks like Scott, he doesn't know a thing about living on earth. He arranges a rendezvous with his people and then hits the road with Jenny, pursued by the army, the NSA, and various scientists (one played by the great Charles Martin Smith).

Many of the movie's elements recall E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial -- specifically when the "starman" uses his powers to resurrect a deer -- but remain rooted in grown-up relationships. The key to the movie is Bridges' offbeat performance, which earned him an Oscar nomination, attempting to navigate a curious new land in an ill-fitting body. But Allen's performance is spot-on as well, completely confused and with an onslaught of previous unexperienced emotions. Despite the strong characters and situation, however, Carpenter doesn't forget that he's a genre filmmaker and his focus eventually returns to thrills and suspense. Either way, Starman is a treasure.

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