Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sundance ’11: Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same

They might look a little like the Coneheads, but these aliens banished to Earth are somewhat different. Rather than suburbia, they make their way to Chelsea, where a shy stationary store clerk falls hard and fast for one of the socially awkward visitors in Madeleine Olnek’s Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same (trailer here), a title that pretty much says it all at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Zoinx and her fellow displaced aliens loved too much, generating excess emotional discharges that were destroying their planet’s ozone layer. Or something like that. Maybe they just wanted to get rid of the overly needy exiles. Regardless, the powers that be laid down the law, not allowing them to return from Earth until their hearts are thoroughly broken. However, Zoinx finds the wrong Earthling for the job in Jane, a mousy stationary store clerk. Romance quickly blossoms between the two, all under the watchful eyes of two X-Files-style government agents.

Codependent is probably the gentlest Park City at Midnight selection of this year’s festival. Never gory, it really has a romantic heart. However, it is not particularly clever or ambitious either. A bit more edge would have helped drive the story. Instead, the spoof of old school alien invasion movies more or less ambles along, nicely and politely.

Frankly, Nat Bouman’s black-and-white cinematography looks more polished than the films that inspired it. The film’s deliberately cheesy effects also hit their marks well enough. Yet, while not conical per se, the strong similarities between the Codependent aliens and those from Saturday Night Live, both in terms of look and mannerisms, prompts unfortunate comparisons.

Still, Codependent’s ensemble gamely embraces the film’s eccentricity, particularly Dennis Davis as an insecure Man in Black. Lisa Haas even brings a credible measure of earnestness to the proceedings, as the lovelorn Jane.

Despite the obvious LGBT themes, Codependent is not aimed solely at that audience, but has wider (or maybe narrower) geeky retro-B cult appeal. Amusing if not essential, it is one of the more manageable films on the Midnight track at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it screens again tonight (1/29) at 11:59 PM.