Here’s why Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin don’t have a prayer of doing for latex cones what Madonna did for black bustiers:
·Cones take two hours to apply. ”But it used to take two and a half or three,” boasts practiced cone affixer and makeup artist David Miller.
·Women might have to shave more than their legs to don them. ”They wanted me to shave those little fuzzies around my ears to make the cone application easier,” Curtin reports calmly. ”But I said no.”
·You can’t take them dancing. ”Dan’s cone only has a life of about eight hours,” Curtin confides. ”Because he sweats so much that water starts to fill up the back.”
·You can’t wear one in a convertible. ”When we filmed with wind machines,” says Miller, ”The cones started wavering. We turned the fans down 20 percent.”
·They’re not sexy. ”I’ll be on the set and see a cute guy or something,” says Michelle Burke, who plays Conehead daughter Connie, ”and then I’ll remember I have the cone on. You can’t flirt with it — it doesn’t work! They look at you like you’re crazy. Definitely not good for the love life.”
The love life of an ordinary mortal, perhaps. But we’re talking about the Coneheads, for whom this hollow two-pound piece of foam is a sex toy. This family of earthbound aliens — introduced by Aykroyd and Curtin 16 years ago on Saturday Night Live — now has a movie named after them, and Coneheads hasn’t toned things down a bit. In fact, its producer, Lorne Michaels (SNL, Wayne’s World), hopes that the film’s familiar zaniness will appeal to the audience for whom the phrases ”We’re from France” and ”Consume mass quantities” mean something. For the younger moviegoer, there’s the well-known supporting cast: Michael Richards (better known as Seinfeld’s Kramer), who first spots the family when they fall to earth; fellow Seinfeld star Jason Alexander, who plays the next-door neighbor (”I’m the Ed Norton of the piece”); and SNL’s David Spade, as an Immigration and Naturalization Service bad guy determined to send Beldar (Aykroyd), wife Prymaat (Curtin), Prymaat’s sister Laarta (Laraine Newman), and their clan back from whence they came. But the movie’s greatest marketing strength may be that it follows on the heels of Wayne’s World, another SNL skit that made good — to the tune of $122 million.
”When Tom Davis, Jane, Lorne, and I wrote the original sketch, we always thought it would be a great movie,” says Aykroyd, somewhat defensively. ”We actually came up with a full story line — how the Coneheads come to earth, assimilate into society, are chased by the air force, which in this case we changed to Immigration, and then got returned to their planet.”
As it stands, Coneheads is your typical immigrants-make-good-on-the-American- dream-but-don’t-have-green-cards fable. There are the hero and heroine: ”Prymaat is very wise, but she would never do anything to usurp Beldar’s position in the family,” says Curtin. Aykroyd describes Beldar as ”a highly disciplined, lemminglike soldier. My picture is of a thousand cones walking to the edge of a cliff and just falling off.” There’s the upwardly mobile move from the trailer parked behind an electronics store to a basement apartment to a quiet house surrounded by identical quiet houses on a suburban cul-de-sac. The fact that the stars are six pack-guzzling, electronically gifted, funny-looking aliens whose ceiling-light fixtures hang higher than their neighbors’ is almost irrelevant. ”There are analogies to how immigrants from all over the world settle in America, the problems they have bringing their own culture to American society,” attests British director Steve Barron, who also worked with otherworldly creatures in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. ”It makes total sense. I had to apply for a visa and deal with (Immigration) as well.”
But not immigration from planet Remulak to a suburban tract house — complete with a salmon-and-blue color scheme, braided area rugs, BarcaLounger, and console television — where a very kinky Cone seduction scene is taking place. Prymaat meets her beloved Beldar at the door in her sexiest wig, purring like a kitten, and murmuring in his ear. ”It is good to hone in places other than the guz chamber prior to slar phase,” she says, spouting her translation of the wisdom most recently gathered from reading Redbook at the check-out counter. ”Obviously,” says Barron, as Prymaat gives the trembling Beldar a devastating spank with her cone, ”their version of sex (or honing) is quite different.” Not to mention their digestive tracts (three stomachs, one fewer than goats have) and their cultural tastes. (”They’d like Jerry Lewis,” muses Aykroyd, ”the appeal of the absurd.”)
How successfully the universal — and out of this universe — absurdity will translate at the box office has yet to be seen. ”I never thought Wayne’s World was fully realized as a sketch either,” Michaels says hesitantly. ”We’re unsure,” adds Aykroyd. Barron is far more optimistic. ”After all these years,” he says, ”the actors know their characters so well. They have them completely honed.” And that’s not in the Conehead sense of the word. — Additional reporting by Billy Frolick