Friday, May 31, 2024

Invaders from Proxima B, on Fandango at Home

"Chuck" is a lot like Alf, but he can also body-switch. He is a gruff little troublemaker, but a Hollywood musician and his family decide to help anyway in director-screenwriter-lead actor Ward Roberts’ Invaders from Proxima B, which premieres today on Fandango at Home.

Fleeing his not very-Roddenberry-esque alien planet in a stolen flying saucer, Chuck crash-lands in Howie Jankins’ backyard. Of course, his wife Jane did not see anything, but he is sure there is something out there, so the next morning he calls Nathan Droogal, the world’s most annoying fire-and-brimstone exterminator. While Droogal hunts demonic vermin, Chuck reveals himself to Jankins, claiming to be on a mission to save planet Earth. Reluctantly, Jankins agrees to let Chuck temporarily switch bodies with him. Maybe he was a bit gullible, but coming face-to-face with a furry space puppet is bound to be convincing.

Nevertheless, things get a bit sticky when Wily and Marvin Felson start poking around. The father and son agents of a secret alien-liaison organization have been ordered to facilitate Chuck’s extradition. They also hope to get a kickback for their efforts. As the chaos mounts, Jankins accidentally uses Chuck’s body-switching powers on his wife, creating a real mess.

Viewers might initially fear Roberts’ extreme DIY aesthetic will lead to deliberately cheesy low-brow humor. However,
Proxima is surprisingly inventive. Most of the special effects involve a puppet who looks like Oscar the Grouch’s cousin. Yet, it also boasts some reasonably slick-looking animated segments depicting Chuck’s flashbacks.

Most memorably, the body-switching complications grow increasingly funny. Roberts (as both Jankins and Chuck) and Samantha Sloyan have a real flair for physical comedy and they both nicely project the various personas shifting in and out of their bodies. The same is true for young Bo Roberts, who also enters the body-switching musical chairs game as their daughter Ruby. Plus, it is amusing to see Mike C. Nelson, recognizable from the “new homeowner” Progressive commercials (he took a selfie with LL Cool J) as the nebbish Marvin Felson (he also co-produced with Ward).

Chuck talks tough, but he is not foul-mouthed. Yet, the quirky comedy is never too-cute. Somehow, Roberts just hits the right degree of weird goofiness. The results are bizarrely likable. Trust me, it’s a lot of fun. Recommended for fans of ultra-indie science fiction spoofs,
Invaders from Proxima B is now available on Fandango at Home.