Imagine the shock: a young Wisconsin widow, sleeping off an overdose of wine and home movies, wakes up to find the living room all aglow, and a naked infant on the floor, who metamorphoses before her very eyes into a simulacrum of her dead husband. She promptly passes out and wakes up again. Was it a dream? No. An extraterrestrial has accepted the invitation of Voyager II (to wit: "Please come and visit our planet Earth"), and has effected a "symbiotic transformation," using a lock of hair in the family photo album, to change himself from a Tinkerbell-like firefly into flesh-and-blood. That the heroine soon falls in love with this look-alike may denote a theory about the physicality of what we call love; or it may denote nothing more than the superficiality of the heroine. But that's not the main thrust of the movie, an educational itinerary that's mostly dull (learning how to eat with a fork, learning how to kiss from the beach scene in From Here to Eternity) and intermittently bright: Jeff Bridges, in a performance that suggests either a borderline moron or an unoiled automaton, can be very funny when parroting the accents and idioms of American rednecks. With Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith, and Richard Jaeckel; directed by John Carpenter. 1984.

Duncan Shepherd

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