DVD Review: Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same Ian White February 9, 2013 DVDs & Rentals 1978 One of the great things about working at Movie Ramblings towers is that, every so often, a film we’ve never heard of and would never have expected to see lands on the desk with a big ‘Play Me’ smile on its face. Often, that’s a good thing. Sometimes, not so much. But what most of those movies have in common is, they’re so low budget they were obviously made with a lot of love and passion no matter how haphazardly they eventually turn out. And when a film maker puts the work in, and their heart’s in the right place, even so-so films can have something to recommend them. ‘CoDependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same’ is far from being a so-so film. I happily watched it twice so that I could write this review and, as a fan of anything quirky with a faux 50s B-Movie title, I was looking forward to finding out what indie wonders ‘CoDependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same’ had in store even before I switched on the DVD machine. So here goes. The planet Zots is in trouble. Some of its inhabitants are experiencing ‘bad feelings’ – when they fall in love it’s so intense that their bodies can’t contain it, so the feelings rise into the sky and open a dangerous hole in the ozone layer – which is threatening to destroy their world. For this reason, all inhabitants with big feelings must be reported to the authorities and exiled to Earth to get their hearts broken so the big feelings will disappear. Which is what Zylar, Barr and Zoinx are doing in New York: they’re lovelorn lesbian space aliens looking to hook up with some Earthlings and get the bad feelings stomped out of them. Except when Zoinx meets Jane, a shy and emotionally guarded earthling who works in a Manhattan stationary store where she spends her days dealing with crotchety customers who like to return empty pen boxes and randomly push the buttons on her photocopier, they both get more big feelings than they bargained for. Meanwhile, codepedent lesbian alien Barr is in love with fellow exiled lesbian alien Zylar, who attempts to be the most promiscuous of the bunch but spends a lot of her time phoning prospective girlfriends to tell them she’s not interested, and likes to hang out in the Laundromat watching her scarf take a ride in the washing machine. Barr knows Zylar has big feelings for her because Zylar touched Barr’s nose so frequently (which is how lesbian aliens display great affection) that Barr’s nose began to peel. “You opened the foyer of my affections,” Barr says. Zylar tries to play it cool and blames the cheesecake. She tells Barr she was under the influence of ‘the creamy matter’. Meanwhile, two secret service agents have Jane and Zoinx under surveillance, hoping to find out where the lesbian space aliens keep their spaceship. It’s quickly apparent that one of the two men – the rookie agent – is a little bit more than the eye can see, but his more experienced partner is too disgruntled to notice. “How long have you been working with the agency?” he asks the rookie, “Did they tell you this is a rookie training program because it’s not a rookie training program if the rookies get promoted past me every single time.” Will the lesbian space aliens succeed in losing their big feelings so they can return to Zots? What will Jane do when Zoinx unexpectedly receives the order to leave via a cheesy television dating show? Will the undercover agents find the spaceship? Will Barr win Zylar round with more cheesecake? Madeleine Olnek is a smart film maker with a great visual sense (the black and white photography and single camera direction reminded me a lot of Woody Allen’s ‘Manhattan’) and she’s written a script with some occasionally very funny lines, and a neat but not over-done commentary on modern –day romantic life. I love the central idea that aliens are being sent to Earth to get their hearts broken, and that in itself is worth an hour of anybody’s attention. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the smartest argument ever for why aliens would travel so many light years to join us. ‘Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same’ is Olnek’s first feature-length film, but she has written several successfully produced plays and is a former student of David Mamet’s. Given that level of experience, it’s not surprising that she can write such a slyly funny, tightly constructed character piece on what was obviously a miniscule budget. True to her theatrical roots, Olnek’s also brought an impressive troupe of actors along for the ride. Susan Ziegler, as Zoinx, and Jackie Monahan, as Zylar, display gentle comedic touches and play the robotic monotone ridiculousness of their parts very well. Cynthia Kaplan, as Barr, is suitably fragile as the alien anxious to remain on Earth so that she and Zylar can stay together ‘without fear of reprisals’, and there’s a funny moment when she and Zylar try to bombard themselves with sad images by looking at the ocean -although what we call the ocean, lesbian space aliens call hydrochloric overcrowding – and, misty eyed, consider the poetic indifference of a revolving dessert tray and how near and yet so far the cheesecake can be. Lisa Haas is also very good as the sympathetic and insecure Jane, who leads us into the story with a deft opening scene during which she tells her concerned therapist (a perfectly frowny Rae C. Wright) that when she saw a bright light a note dropped out of it asking her “What are you doing later?” Her performance is a little bit self-conscious at times, but she plays it with a blue-collar lesbian charm that makes us root for her all the way. Even her line “”No-one I’ve had feelings for has ever returned them. I should have known you were from outer space”, which is a piece of groaningly too-cheesy dialogue, is delivered so smartly and sweetly we can easily forgive its tweeness. Dennis Davis and Alex Karpovsky, as the Senior Agent and Rookie Agent respectively, also provide some awkwardly humorous moments although the surprise twist (if that’s what it is) telegraphs itself from their first conversation and some of their dialogue is a bit uncomfortably heavy-handed. It would be easy to condemn ‘Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same’ as the result of dropping Ed Wood’s ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’, Nora Ephron’s romcom smarts and the cast of ‘The L Word’ into a blender, sieving the mash with a smidgeon of ‘Annie Hall’ and a waft of ‘Earth Girls Are Easy’, hiring Ming The Merciless to supply bald caps and humungous alien collars, and giving Jane ‘I used to be Mrs. Conehead’ Curtin a special consultancy credit. But that would be flippant and misleading. The fact I’ve just written over a thousand words about this tiny unheard of little film and sometimes struggle to write half as much about some of the biggest flashiest blockbusters should tell you how much I enjoyed Madeleine Olnek’s debut. True, some of the jokes are a bit forced, some of the ideas don’t quite work and how much you enjoy ‘Codependent’ will depend a lot on the mood you’re in when you sit down to watch it, but leave your expectations at the door and you might be as pleasantly surprised as I was. I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing what Madeleine Olnek does next, and I hope I can recognise her cast when they remove their bald caps and lend their comedic talents to other movies. They’ve taken the overworked ‘aliens are among us’ theme and made something fun, intelligent and occasionally quite touching. E.T. would definitely be phoning home to talk about this one.