Illegal Aliens

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“Anna Nicole’s last film. It’s probably her best, though that’s not saying much.”

Okay, her swansong won’t be up there with James Dean’s or Bruce Lee’s, but this does at least sense its own idiocy, rendering the movie somewhat bullet-proof, critically speaking. It’s supposed to be dumb, wildly implausible and hideously over-acted. So condemning it for these flaws is complaining because your hotdog tastes of meat. A trio of shape-shifting aliens land on Earth to protect it from the scum of the universe. Thanks to their first encounter with our culture coming in the shape of a porno mag, they opt for the form of attractive women. Two end up getting jobs as FX/stunt people in Hollywood – a sadly underexplored angle – while the third is…Anna Nicole Smith. Then their nemesis (Laurer, the actress formerly known as Chyna) turns up, taking over the body of a mobster’s wife, and prepares to bring about the end of the world. Can she be stopped?

We do have a huge tolerance for “bad” movies in this house, not least Smith’s earlier efforts, so maybe appreciated this more than most. However, for every neat idea, such as the trio taking Cameron, Lucy and Drew as their human names, another doesn’t work at all, or is just creepy, like the director’s apparent obsession with AN’s toilet habits. The film also swings from decent production values – some stunts and chases are large-scale, though I suspect may come from other flicks – to cheapjack as hell. For instance, at one point there’s a ‘Super Villain Monologue Timer’, an amusing idea…except they spell it “Villian”. Ouch. Laurer channels Vincent D’Onofrio from Men in Black to an embarrassing extent, but is still oddly fun to watch, though there’s a strange difference in approach between her or Smith, and the other two leads, who play it almost straight.

There’s no doubt this film is, if not cashing in on her death, certainly shrugging its shoulders and taking advantage of an unfortunate situation. I don’t really blame them for that, even if anyone looking for skin will be wasting their time here. In sharp contrast to her previous, ah, body of work, AN’s clothes remain on; as exploitation goes, this is tame and restrained. And that may be the main problem: a failure by the makers to decide which way to go. SF/action or all-out comedy? There’s enough of each to suggest, with greater commitment, either might have worked better. Instead, it comes off as somewhat lukewarm – can’t say we were ever bored, yet I can’t say I was ever more than mildly amused.

The DVD was released in the US on April 22nd by MTI Home Video, and includes a commentary, deleted scenes and bloopers.
Dir: David Giancola
Stars: Anna Nicole Smith, Joanie Laurer, Gladys Jimenez, Lenise Sorén

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