UFOs in Brooklyn? Fuggedaboutit! And fugged (sorry, forget) about Barry Strugatz’s dismal comedy “From Other Worlds,” which imagines how a bored Brooklyn housewife finds a new meaning to her dreary life thanks to the unlikely arrival of extra-terrestrials in Brooklyn.
Yeah, there’s a better chance of seeing the Dodgers back to Brooklyn rather than Marvin the Martian’s cousins. But in this film (made in 2004 but only now getting theatrical release), stay-at-home mom Joanne Schwartzbaum emerges from the somnambulist existence to a breathless new universe as someone who had a close encounter (in her backyard, no less) and wants another spin with those little green men. And she gets more than she bargained for, including an “X-Files” worthy chase involving a mysterious ancient document and close encounter of a decidedly cheesy kind.
None of this is particularly funny, thanks in large part to Strugatz’s crashingly quotidian screenplay. Strugatz’s idea of humor is having the UFO-obsessed Joanne buying multiple packages of Flying Saucer ice cream bars and mistaking a Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting for a UFO support group. The press kit for this film states that Strugatz worked as a production assistant and location scout and “was able to observe some great directors at work, including Milos Forman, Peter Bogdanovich, and Woody Allen.” Clearly there is a difference between observing and learning something.
Equally inept is Cara Buono as Joanne. A talented actress, Buono is literally adrift in this lifeless mess and her charisma is never allowed to inject some much needed personality to the inert production. Isaach De Bankhole, playing Buono’s partner in UFO hunting, is severely wasted as well, and a cameo by the normally unpredictable Robert Downey Sr. is actually very predictable.
It’s only January, but “From Other Worlds” is already secured of a place on the year’s Worst 10 List. E.T., phone home – and bring a better movie, please.