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Living in an Alien Nation



Aliennation Today's Retro-review: 1988's Alien Nation, starring James Caan and Mandy Patinkin.

The plot: An alien civilization arrives on Earth and is eventually integrated into human society. But many humans don't take kindly to the "newcomers" -- especially not one particular police detective (Caan) who takes on a "newcomer" as partner (Patinkin).

That sounds familiar: Think "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Or just about any other buddy-cop movie, subbing the aliens for an ethnic community.

Maybe you remember: The newcomers' "alcohol" of choice? Spoiled milk. Want to give a newcomer a grisly death? Drop him in seawater.

Surely you haven't forgotten: The human and alien detectives have a comic moment discussing how a condom works. "It's rubber -- it stretches," says Caan. "And it still fits?" counters an obviously gifted Patinkin.

Alienshow In case you missed it: The movie became the plot of a TV series that started in 1989, starring Gary Graham and Eric Pierpoint. After the series was canceled, five made-for-TV movies were produced to continue the story. 

One nasty review: "Once we understand that the movie takes place in the near future and has aliens who are being integrated into human society, everything else is an assembly-line cop picture." (Chicago Sun-Times)

Why we love it anyway: All 80s fans are big Jimmy Caan fans dating back to 1975's Rollerball. Throw in some hair-impaired newcomers and some sinfully hot alien strippers ... and it's E-Terrific.

Some trivia: The alien detective was going to be called George Jetson, but animator Hanna-Barbera wouldn't release the rights to that name. So it's an inside joke when Sykes chooses to call him "George" instead of Sam.

Watch it again: Alien Nation airs March 21 and March 25 on Cinemax. Click here to rent it on Netflix, or click here to find it on

Top 5 quotes from Alien Nation:
5. "Sam Francisco? That's your name?"
4. "Your name... Sykes. I'm sure it doesn't bother you at all that it sounds like "ss'ai k'ss," two words in my language which mean "excrement" and "cranium" ... sh--head."
3. "Why's it got to be sour milk they get wasted on? Why can't it be Jack Daniels or Thunderbird?"
2. "Your mother mates out of season."
1. "Don't take it personally. I'm a bigot."

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:22pm]


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