Article 3448 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-14-2010
Posting Date: 1-22-2011
Directed by Marshall Brickman
Featuring Alan Arkin, Madeline Kahn, Austin Pendleton
What it is: Offbeat comedy with science fiction touches
Five scientists at a think tank hit upon the idea of brainwashing an assistant professor of psychology into believing he is an extraterrestrial. However, when the professor then becomes a national celebrity, they find they have more than they bargained for.
From the very opening of this movie, I got a strong sense of Woody Allen’s influence, and that’s no surprise, given that writer/director Marshall Brickman worked with Allen on some of his movies. I’ve been curious about this movie for years, and I’m glad to finally have seen it. There are some truly hilarious moments here; I love some of the scientists’ other projects, and some of the suggestions the brainwashed professor gives to society are highly amusing. If the whole movie were as strong as its high points, the movie would be a minor classic. However, the movie has some problems; for one, it really doesn’t have a plot, and this becomes fairly apparent when it limps to an unsatisfying ending. It’s also a movie that has dated badly; much of the content may be impenetrable to someone who is significantly younger than me. The performances are quite good, though for me the real treat was catching Fred Gwynne as a military man. It’s also interesting to catch a movie that contains an unambiguous reference to a movie I just saw two days ago, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.