Welcome back! For some reason you decided to tune in for more of Project: ALF, which I think legally classifies you as a minority. President Trump will be in touch.
So, yeah, Project: ALF. If you’re looking for a recap of part one, that last sentence was my recap of part one. Nothing happens in this shit, so don’t get your hopes up.
We open act two with ALF crammed miserably into a burlap sack. Some guy drives him to an undisclosed destination, which certainly gets my hopes up. All he needs to do is make it to the Pine Barrens and start digging for this to become the greatest movie ever made.
ALF bleats at this guy and we can see on his face that he’s really starting to wonder if all this is worth it just for a blowjob from Jensen Daggett. Either way, he’s determined to find out.
Jensen Daggett talks for a while about this guy named Dexter Moyers, who was some government bigshot who got blackballed for his ideas that UFO sightings should be matters of public record, instead of covered up. They canned his ass and now he lives wherever they’re going. Obviously it’s pretty far away, because if he lived nearby it would mean the movie might end in a reasonable amount of time and we can’t have that, can we?
And, again, I’m sorry, but fucking hell, this movie makes me ask this question over and over: how can the Alien Task Force operate publicly, funded by tax-payer dollars, in a world that doesn’t believe in aliens? Yes, in the ALF universe they obviously exist, but we were reminded last week that people who believed in aliens were hounded and ridiculed relentlessly, and this week we learn that somebody was drummed out of the organization because he wanted to speak openly about UFOs while everyone else wanted to cover them up.
So…what the fuck? If UFOs aren’t officially confirmed as existing, you can’t have this national organization operating for decades to study them. Period. If someone discovered a unicorn colony tomorrow, I can understand wanting to study what we’ve found. But I can’t understand opening a new branch of the military called the Unicorn-Dedicated Investigation and Examination Squad (UnDIES) if the official line is that there are no such things as unicorns.
It’s insane to me. I don’t understand the logic here at all. What is the Alien Task Force in the public mind if not an organization that studies…y’know…aliens?
Operate in secret, or admit that the thing you already say you’re studying exists. ALF and its offshoot here literally found the least believable intersection of visibility and public sentiment and stuck with it.
They stop at a motel and ALF really sticks it to whoever that guy is by sending him out for food and fucking Jensen Daggett while he’s away.
The entire scene is more padding. Are you surprised? ALF just bitches about how hungry he is, and lists all the food he wants. The guy goes out in the middle of the night to get it. By way of saying thanks, ALF reveals that he took a massive shit in the burlap sack.
Then the guy gets back. ALF eats and makes noise until 3 a.m., and tells the people who just saved his life to go fuck themselves when they complain. It’s actually a great meta joke, as this was beat for beat Paul Fusco’s management style.
What the hell is ALF’s problem here? Is this supposed to be funny? Okay, yes, it is supposed to be…I understand that. But it’s really just annoying.
Watching ALF torment these two people who are just trying to help him is like being tormented by ALF yourself. It’s not funny at all, and it’s not even like ALF is saying or doing anything clever. He just keeps turning the TV back on when they shut it off and acting like an asshole.
As kim pointed out last week, ALF’s behavior is confusing. On the show he wanted his freedom. He couldn’t have it, because he’d be found and killed by the government, but he wanted to live a life of his own; that much was clear. Then he spent years in Alien Task Force custody with even less freedom, but now that two characters are working their asses off to give him what he wants, he fights them, insults them, and generally tries to ensure they’ll regret ever getting involved in the first place.
So what does ALF want? This is his movie, so we should have some idea of his motivation…right? Does he want to be free, or does he want to hang out in a jail cell playing poker for the rest of his life? What is the point of any of this?
Then we all learn that they didn’t write quite enough dialogue for the scene and ALF just jumps on the bed for a while.
This is a movie, people. This is a movie. Can I please remind you readers out there that this is a movie? And if you had the misfortune to be born in Germany, it was a movie that you had to pay to see.
THIS IS A FUCKING MOVIE?!
This is really what Paul Fusco does with his bigger budget and creative control and hand-picked cast? He has a puppet jump on the bed and scream for fuck knows how long?
This is what he does with his big return to television?
This is what he gives fans who wanted more of his most famous creation?
No wonder no networks wanted more ALF. Project: ALF shows what that would have looked like, and you can’t fault anyone for saying, “No, that’s quite alright.”
Project: ALF is quite likely the worst film I’ve ever seen, if only because nothing of any significance happens at any point. None of the jokes are significantly funny. None of the emotional moments are significantly dramatic. There’s no significantly impressive puppetry. None of the twists are significantly surprising. None of the scenes significantly affect anything that happens in another scenes. None of the characters are significant. None of the writing is significant. None of the plot is significant.
What’s more, I’ve watched this movie at least three times now, and I still couldn’t tell you what happens in it. It’s all just so much shit.
Has anyone out there ever seen a film worse than Project: ALF? Tell me about this mythical cinematic nightmare, please, if only so I can focus on something else.
Then someone knocks at the door. For Project: ALF I think that counts as an action sequence.
Jensen Daggett and the male scientist hide ALF in the bathroom. Turns out it’s some guy dressed as Beetlejuice.
My favorite part about this exchange is that when we see this guy, he’s leaning on the doorjamb with his arm angled into the room, but when we see the reverse shots his arm isn’t there, so it looks like he disappears whenever he’s not talking. Incredible continuity.
This guy looked familiar but I couldn’t place him. He’s played by someone named W. Earl Brown, and he’s been in loads of things so, again, I can’t possibly pin down what I actually know him from. But since Project: ALF he’s worked pretty regularly, including recurring roles in shows like Deadwood and True Detective, which I’ve heard some people like. I dunno. If it doesn’t star a sassy puppet I am simply not interested.
Anyway, he’s a trucker who looks like Dr. Sanchez from Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, and he’s pissed off because of all that bed bangin’ sound until he realizes what’s going on.
He says, “Damn, son, I didn’t realize you bagged Jensen Daggett. Carry on.”
Then he leaves and they go to get ALF out of the bathroom…but he’s gone!
And holy shit is that the most melodramatic screengrab imaginable.
Anyway, whoever this guy is, he realizes that it’s going to be at least another 24 hours before he can cup Jensen Daggett’s sleeping hand over his cock, so they set out to find ALF.
And this, I have to admit, is a serious complication.
It took a while for the film to find any, but now there are some actual stakes: ALF is all alone. Jensen Daggett and this other guy have no idea where he is. Thanks to that distraction at the door he could be anywhere, and there’s no guarantee they’ll ever…
Oh. Nevermind. He’s 20 yards away, in the manager’s office.
So much for that.
Why is he there? Who fucking knows. He’s not even hiding.
Well, he is hiding, but only as a joke…I think. It’s not clear.
ALF rings the bell a few times and then pops up and scares the old man who runs the place. So he was technically hiding when he was crouching below the counter, ringing the bell, but it wasn’t for the purposes of going undetected as, again, he was ringing the bell. And he pops up anyway, knowing full well he’ll be seen then, so I guess he just saw an old man and decided to be a fuckbag? It sure seems that way.
The manager is played by Ray Walston, who is best known for his work as the title character in My Favorite Martian. That’s a nice little bit of stunt casting, and lord knows the guy tries his damnedest here.
At this phase in his career, Walston also had a regular role in Picket Fences, and he worked more or less regularly for his entire life, so it’s nice to know that this poor guy wasn’t slumming for a paycheck.
I actually remember him best from the 1992 version of Of Mice and Men, with Gary Sinise and John Malkovich. It’s been many years since I’ve seen it, but I remember it being better than it had any right to be. That might be a good candidate for Fiction Into Film, when you guys let me write about good things again.
ALF demands a hat and coat from Ray Walston, because if there’s anything we missed about ALF it’s the way he bullied the elderly out of their possessions. He also asks for a quarter for the pay phone, and Ray Walston hesitates as he hands it over: “You’re not going to bite me, are you?” ALF says, “Not for a quarter.”
And, hey, a second laugh!
What’s more, it’s the first laugh at an actual joke. Bev Archer was funny, but her line wasn’t. She found room for comedy in the delivery; as written she was just introducing herself.
Here, though, we have an actual humorous exchange. I should have it stuffed.
Anyway, ALF dresses as Holden Caulfield and places a call to one of the guards back at the Alien Task Force base. They somehow avoid making a “phone home” joke, and I honestly don’t know if I’m relieved or frustrated by that. Instead he extensively quotes “Take it Easy” by The Eagles so, yeah, I’m going to go with “frustrated.”
ALF bitches to the guard that Jensen Daggett and the guy with her aren’t even fucking, so he has nothing to listen to. At least Willie tried to get it up. Anyway, he’s sick of hanging out with these two if he’s not even going to see tits, so he tells the guard to bring him money and credit cards.
The guard doesn’t know where ALF is or how to reach him, though, so ALF says, “Leave a message on the internet,” and I honestly don’t know if that’s a joke or if that’s actually how Paul Fusco thought the internet worked in 1996.
Then ALF sees…oh for fuck’s sake.
The Kitty Kat Lounge. The strip club so nice they put its name on the building twice.
He sees this place across the street and gets a huge boner, so there’s the erectile dysfunction arc nice and resolved.
As you probably remember, ALF swore off eating cats in “Live and Let Die,” the ninth episode of season four. After that I was on the lookout for cat-eating jokes to undo that development…but they never came. Shockingly, season four let ALF’s change of heart stick.
Then Project: ALF realized it’d be too difficult to write a second joke for him, and it went right back to this one.
…yep. ALF goes to a strip club.
Like…ALF really does go to an actual strip club.
This is Project: ALF.
In which ALF goes to a strip club.
He goes in there because he expects cat to be on the menu, of course, because, again, fuck writing a second joke.
But the…I mean…it can’t just be me, can it?
The “eating pussy” confusion never comes up, but…I mean…this…it can’t just be me thinking that the movie sidles right up to that line, can it?
Like…he really does go in there to eat pussy…
Are we supposed to be drawing that connection? It can’t just be me…can it?!
Whoever this guy is comes in and drags ALF out. There’s some bullshit about a two-drink minimum and ALF wanting to bite the bartender and the strip club not serving food and holy Christ on a stick is this movie padded. Still, here, around the midway point of the whole fucking thing, nothing’s happened.
Don’t get me wrong, you can do a really funny movie in which the stakes are low and it’s built around a series of fun setpieces, but Project: ALF is less Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure than it is Gordon Crosses the Street.
You know, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (like the more recent Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday) is a great point of comparison, actually. That film and this one each take eccentric, odd protagonists and shove them quickly out of their comfort zone, sending them on a wild, zany adventure that sees them interacting with colorful folks along the way. In literature we refer to this as a picaresque, but I think films just refer to them as road movies.
The idea of these kinds of stories is that things happen in relative isolation. One event or conflict may stem naturally from the last (though it’s not necessary, and lurching past travel logistics in order to get to the next big scene is common) but they’re episodic by design. Pee-Wee hitches a ride with an escaped convict, Pee-Wee wins over some bikers by dancing to “Tequila,” Pee-Wee gets chased around a big dinosaur by a guy who wants to bash his brains in. Those are all setpieces, with our only true connective tissue being Pee-Wee himself. The hunt for the stolen bicycle really just serves to kick everything into motion; it may be Pee-Wee’s motivation, but it’s not the film’s.
Project: ALF seems to be reaching for something similar, but it fails on two levels (well…at least two levels).
The first is that it’s simply not as funny. If you’re going to throw a bunch of comedy skits at an audience, they need to actually be humorous. If they’re not, there’s no reason for anyone to keep watching. (See: me, in 1996.) You can have a few stinkers, and you can have a few quieter moments amongst the mania (in fact, you probably should), but the audience has to be able to rely on the fact that if they stick around, something funny enough will happen to justify the missteps.
Project: ALF hasn’t had a single worthwhile joke yet, and we’ve given it more than enough time to produce one. Both Pee-Wee movies mentioned above will have had at least a dozen big laughs by now, and countless smaller chuckles and smiles. (Can’t vouch for Big Top Pee-Wee, though. That’s another one I couldn’t get through as a kid…is it worth reappraising as an adult?)
But then there’s another, more instructive comparison: Spending time with Pee-Wee is fun.
I’m not saying Pee-Wee is a better character than ALF. I think he is, by a fucking landslide, but that’s not my point. What I’m saying is that they’re both deeply flawed, irritating nuisances. But while that’s the case, there’s a giddy, childish thrill that comes from spending time with Pee-Wee. With ALF, however…
…well, you read this blog.
Time with ALF grates. It drains. It takes its toll. You get sick of him quickly, and while Pee-Wee has his regular flashes of wonderment or invention or silliness to keep him on the right side of our hearts, ALF just shits and screams and rapes a lot. It gets old. Hell, it got old 99 episodes ago.
Project: ALF could easily have been a loose collection of comic setpieces, and I hope that’s what it was aiming for. (If it wasn’t, I have no clue what this shit was supposed to be.) It’s not a bad idea. An alien and his former captors hit the road and get into crazy scrapes at every stop. An Alien Task Farce, if you will.
But the problem is ALF himself. Even with hypothetically better jokes, ALF is too annoying. He needs softening. He needs the rough edges sanded off now and again so that we can like spending time with him.
When Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday premiered, I saw folks on Facebook commenting on what an asshole Pee-Wee sometimes was in that movie. But here’s the thing: they weren’t all complaints. These people were just puzzled.
And here’s why they were puzzled: they were too young to notice when Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse came out that the guy was always an asshole.
The character is a bit of a dick…but he was so likeable in spite of that fact that we never picked up on it. Pee-Wee was able to be flawed as a human being and a welcome presence on our screens. We were enjoying the things we liked about him, so we didn’t pick up on what others might not like about him.
With ALF, it’s impossible to pick up on anything otherwise.
Anyway, there’s a police car at the motel, because Ray Walston NARCed.
Then we cut inside for another big waste of time as the police grill him about the little creature he saw. Ray Walston says it was a wolverine…but not the animal. He means a Wolverine, like the sports team, because ALF said he came from Michigan. Sounds hilarious, doesn’t it?
In the hotel room Jensen Daggett and this other guy yell at him for going outside, and then yell at him more when they find out he placed a call to the Alien Task Force.
ALF says they shouldn’t be too mad since he admitted to his misbehavior, and they’re getting it “straight from the wolverine’s mouth,” which is odd since ALF wasn’t in the room for that conversation between Ray Walston and the police so it’s not like he’s doing a callback or anything.
I don’t get this. I don’t get this.
I don’t get this.
There is a decently funny bit here, though. This guy, whoever he is, listens to ALF talking about calling the Alien Task Force and then he shouts, “Why!?”
ALF replies, “Because I need my things.”
Then the guy says, “I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to Him!” and points up, toward God.
And you know what? That was pretty okay. Not worth sitting through forty-four minutes of horse shit to get to, but I liked that joke. It was a funny idea executed well. You know. The sort of thing you usually see about a hundred times in a comedy that knows what it’s doing.
In fairness to the actors, Project: ALF really does have a better cast than the TV show. Somehow, though, their roles are even more thankless.
Jensen Daggett says, “Dickheads, let’s go somewhere else.” But then this other guy says, “In what? A military van? They’ve probably got an APB out on it.”
And, man, this guy just picked up Willie’s mantle of being the biggest asshole imaginable at the worst of times, didn’t he? Jensen Daggett just said they need to get moving; that’s all. She doesn’t need this bullshit. (Jensen call me.)
Also: APB? That stands for All-Points Bulletin, in case anyone out there doesn’t know. That means every agent of law enforcement (“all points”) has been told to be on the active lookout for something (that’s the “bulletin”). Since the police were just here, parked next to the cunting van, and they didn’t bat an eye, I think it’s safe to say there’s not an APB out on it. You fuckshit.
Anyway, ALF says he’ll get them a new vehicle, and this guy lets him leave alone, unsupervised, without even asking him what his plan is, because that’s the kind of writing you get when you only have six fucking years to finish your script, I guess.
ALF then goes to the manager’s office and swindles Ray Walston out of his car. Just in case you thought the character got off too easy earlier.
Then Colonel Martin Sheen…oh, yeah, that’s right. Martin Sheen is in this. I must have been blinded by the raw starpower of Jensen Daggett and whoever that other guy is.
Anyway, he walks around ALF’s cell, complaining about all the amenities the alien had as a prisoner. Which, fine, fair enough, but holy shitnuts look at this camera angle. How fucking tall is this room? It’s…not even a big room. It’s just a tall room. I guess that’s the reason you usually don’t shoot sets this way, unless the characters are supposed to be in a cathedral or something.
He finds out that his assistant used to gamble with ALF and he gets pissed off and Jesus Christ, is anything going to happen in this movie? I mean, again, if this is just a series of setpieces, fine. But Project: ALF‘s idea of a setpiece seems to be people standing quietly around while somebody talks about something we never get to see.
And then ALF raps.
Like…ALF really does rap.
This is Project: ALF.
In which ALF raps.
Readers who truly hate themselves will remember that ALF has rapped twice before. Once in “It Isn’t Easy…Bein’ Green” and again in “Hail to the Chief,” so Project: ALF proves conclusively that tragedies come in threes. Anyway, this is his longest sustained performance yet, so be sure to track down the DVD if that for some reason appeals to you.
Anyway, they ride around in the car ALF stole from that poor old man, and he raps for no reason like he’s seen those colored people do on the TV.
It was almost impossible to get a screengrab of all three of these characters together, by the way. Whenever we see ALF’s face straight on, we see Jensen Daggett’s and this other guy’s shoulders, but not their faces. It’s as though nobody could share the frame in a way that might detract attention from ALF. Of course, we know THERE’S NO WAY THAT WAS INTENTIONAL
When he runs out of rap ALF talks shit about Carl Sagan for a while. Okay. Not sure why, but evidently he thinks Sagan is a piece of shit, so we hear about that. It’s like getting stuck next to your uncle at a family gathering and he just wants to talk about how much damage Obama has done to the country without ever giving a reason. He just wants you to know the guy’s a lump of crap, over and over again. Spoiler: I wouldn’t watch your dumbass uncle in a movie, either.
Jensen Daggett and this other guy just have to sit there and listen to it, because when you’re a human in an ALF production god forbid you get to say or do anything yourself. Then he runs out of Carl Sagan jokes and does a routine about the pronunciation of Uranus.
Fucking hell. I’ll ride with Pee-Wee any day.
Then a song kicks in and from the way it sounded I thought for sure we’d be treated to some shitty cover of “The Wanderer,” but it turned out to be a shitty original instead. IMDB doesn’t list any soundtrack credits, which means this particular track must have been pulled from Free Garbage Music for Your Awful Movie, Vol. 4.
It sucks, and we hear a hell of a lot of it because we get all these damned helicopter shots of the car driving around.
Like, way too many of them. Just helicopter shot after helicopter shot.
Nothing’s happening. There’s no dialogue. No visual jokes on the road signs or anything. Just the car driving from a lot of different helicopter angles.
I guess if you paid to have a helicopter for the day, you’re going to use it as much as you can, but, damn, imagine if they had invested this money in a script editor instead.
There is one joke toward the end. Whoever the guy driving is says that it’s odd they haven’t seen another car on the highway. Which is a lie because we saw a truck go the other way while ALF was rapping. God dammit, Project: ALF.
But then Jensen Dagget says, “Bro, this is no highway. It’s Dexter Moyers’ driveway.” Which is a lie because there are clearly two lanes on this clearly tarmacked and clearly maintained road with clear DOT markings. GOD DAMMIT PROJECT: ALF
They get to Dexter Moyers’ house and ALF throws empty booze bottles out of the car, smashing them everywhere because he is a fucking dick. Jensen Daggett goes to the intercom and there’s some robot voice that greets her. She tells it who she is, and the robot voice says, “Processing…” before the door opens, and we see some hot Russian lady.
I honestly thought the joke would be that the Russian lady would open her mouth and we’d find out that the robot voice was her natural voice, but, no, she has a normal voice, and I have no idea why she’s even in the movie.
In fact, she’s fucking terrible. Her lines are clearly overdubbed. It’s like watching Tommy Wiseau in The Room; her mouth moves and then you hear her line, not quite in sync, at a higher volume than everyone else.
You spent all that money on a fucking helicopter to film an unnecessary driving sequence, but couldn’t be arsed to hire better actors or editors? Dudes, this is one awful movie.
Anyway, some robot comes in, but I think it’s a different robot voice this time, so he wasn’t the one talking through the intercom as far as I can tell. My question will never be resolved!
The robot offers Jensen Daggett a drink, but she declines. (We’ve all been there, robot.) Then he says, “Wasted trip…” and turns around and rolls away. That wasn’t hilarious or anything, but the timing of the delivery was actually pretty funny. So, okay, there’s another joke I didn’t hate.
…but then she meets up with Dexter Moyers and the robot does the same thing again with hors-d’oeuvres, and it’s a lot less funny the second time.
The whole reason Jensen Daggett left ALF and that other guy in the car was so that she could prepare Moyers for what he was about to see…but she doesn’t actually say anything to him about ALF.
Like, literally at all.
They say hello, he tells her that her father used to call her Porkchop, and then she cockblocks the robot again.
That’s it. She then says she’s going to bring the other two assholes into this guy’s house, without doing the one thing she said she was going to do.
I have absolutely no clue why this scene happened at all.
So they let ALF and that other guy come in, and ALF immediately chases the cat around to eat it because he is ALF and ALF eats cats.
But hey, we get a glimpse of the midget!
Actually, it’s probably not the midget, but it’s a midget and holy shit did my enjoyment of this movie skyrocket for the three frames he’s visible through that doorway.
Anyway, ALF waddles in. Dexter Moyers says he’s thrilled to meet an alien life form. ALF says he really wants to fuck that Russian lady who can’t deliver a line to save her life.
We’re cookin’ now, huh?
Then we cut to Ray Walston getting arrested because he has the government van ALF coerced him into taking in exchange for his car. Good to see our lovable hero is still irreparably fucking up the lives of everyone he meets.
Anyway, Walston died in federal prison without a friend or anybody to hear his final sobs, and that’s as good a place to stop watching as any.
Tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion to…
Tune in next week, for the resolution of…
Well, tune in next week for the part where Project: ALF stops.
MELMAC FACTS: Melmacian Martinis use fresh cat juice. If you don’t have it, you can substitute ferret.