(In French, On TV, June 2019) There is a very specific type of humour at play in Coneheads, and you may not have such a good time with the film if you’re not tuned in. Reheating the tired old “alien makes funny observations about humans” trope, Coneheads still manages to score a few points without even trying. Much of the humour stems from the same source, what with aliens candidly describing ordinary human habits, using big words when short ones would suffice. The alternate joke is to talk about human things in alien terms. That, by itself wouldn’t be enough to sustain an entire comedy film, but the script does go for a few better jokes: perhaps the best being the ease with which the alien protagonists can fulfill the more complex rituals of society (finding and holding a job, buying and maintaining a house, founding and sustaining a family) while being perplexed at some of the more superficial stuff. There is also some biting social critique in the way the government is portrayed dealing with immigrants (I suspect that much of the current American administration’s immigration policy may have been lifted from the film). But here’s the thing: considering Conehead’s overall (low) wit and its episodic nature, I suspect that those interesting moments are accidental artifacts of a much more simple-minded development process led by director Steve Barron. We need the aliens to make jokes about jobs and households, so we will give them those things in short order; we need an antagonist, so we’ll crank up the government’s anti-immigration agenda to the maximum. And so on. It does bring extra flavour to a bland film, but it would have been better if it had been put there intentionally. Otherwise, Coneheads does feel like an SNL sketch stretched far too thin. Even the conclusion, which plays with some presumptions as to the nature of a climactic finale, probably ended up there through scripting laziness. I didn’t completely hate Coneheads, but I have a feeling that the result owes more to chance than design. Still, it’s not a dull watch—and there’s an astonishing number of cameos from mid-nineties comedians along the way.