Our Daily Trailer: CONEHEADS


Penelope Spheeris' Wayne's World was a straight-up phenomenon when it debuted in 1992. Critics loved it, viewers eagerly adopted its ready-made catchphrases, and Paramount raked in almost $200m worldwide with it. Of course this meant that Wayne's World would get a sequel (and it did, the following December), but it also meant that Paramount and SNL Studios would spend the next decade attempting to replicate that film's success. They never came close*.

Things went wrong almost immediately, in 1993, with the release of Coneheads. Directed by Steve Barron** and written by Dan Aykroyd, Tom Davis and the husband-and-wife team of Bonnie and Terry Turner, Coneheads was a small-scale disaster, earning just $21m on the back of its $33m production budget. Critics dismissed the film (Roger Ebert: "This is a dismal, dreary and fairly desperate movie"), audiences shrugged it right out of theaters in a matter of weeks. And, y'know, fair enough: Coneheads did not deserve a Wayne's World level of success. It is not a good film.

Coneheads is, however, a little less empty-headed (and a little more ambitious) than its reputation suggests. There's a pro-immigration message buried under all that middling humor, and the film goes for broke in a bizarro, effects-heavy finale that takes place on the Coneheads' home planet of Remulak ("Therefore, you will...narfle the garthok!"). The film's packed with SNL stars, and...well, that's about all one can say in defense of Coneheads. And really, precious little time should be spent defending Coneheads: it's not the worst of the SNL spin-off movies (see also: It's Pat, or Blues Brothers 2000***), but it's almost certainly in the bottom five.

Final Note: I really, really wanted to contribute a post on It's Pat for this week's Our Daily Trailer theme (there's a ton of interesting trivia to get into on that title), but I could not find a theatrical trailer to accompany the post. If anyone knows where I might get my hands on such a thing (difficulty level: must be embeddable), we'll revisit that one at a later date.

* = To say the least: the combined worldwide grosses for Coneheads, It's Pat, Stuart Saves His Family, Blues Brothers 2000, A Night At The Roxbury, SuperstarThe Ladies Man and MacGruber (~$167m) were less than the worldwide grosses for the first Wayne's World (~$183m).

** = Fun Fact: Steve Barron got his start directing music videos, and is responsible for a few classics, including Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," A-Ha's "Take On Me" and Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing."

*** = Fuck you, Blues Brothers 2000.