Friday, November 21, 2014

The Brother from Another Planet (1984)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

There are three main reasons I watch a movie these days:  I like the coming attractions, it’s a movie I saw a long time ago or it’s a Z movie that I have to see to believe.  I came across Brother From Another Planet while looking for movies to stream through Netflix.  I had seen it about 20 years ago.  I was in a community-service program called AmeriCorps; One of the things they did for Corps members was having a movie night.  (I recall this movie and The Milagro Beanfield War being two of the selections.  I don’t recall what the criteria were, though.)  The movie had been released about ten years prior to that, in 1984.

The movie is about a humanoid alien that lands on Earth.  He looks like you’re typical African-American male, hence the name of the movie.  His ship crashes and he’s badly injured, but he’s able to make it to the safety of a bar in Brooklyn.  The regulars there start to trust him when he fixes a video game.  They realize that he has a skill, so he gets a job fixing video games.  They also set him up with a place to live.

Things are going pretty well for The Brother until two well-dressed white guys show up asking about him.  The people at the bar claim not to have seen him, but he gets kicked out of his place, as his landlady doesn’t like people asking questions.  The Brother manages to see a good deal of Brooklyn, including an overdosed druggie.  This leads The Brother to hunt down the guy responsible.  (One of the scenes I recalled was a scene in which The Brother uses his eye as a remote-surveillance device.)

This is one of those movies where low budget doesn’t mean low quality.  If you’ve watched a lot of television and movies, you’ll recognize a few of the actors, including Joe Morton.  You have a good, relatable main character played by an actor who shows that you don’t have to speak to get your point across.  It’s not heavy on the science fiction, either.

I will say that it’s a strange movie.  Netflix lists the movie as a comedy, but I don’t think of it as being a comedy in the traditional sense.  (One definition that I heard was that difference between a comedy and a drama is that in a comedy, none of the main characters die at the end.)  It’s not really the kind of movie where you’ll find yourself laughing.

I’m not sure it’s a movie for children.  It’s not gory or anything, but The Brother is called Three Toe by his pursuers for good reason.  It’s not overly disturbing, but it’s the kind of thing that could stick in a child’s mind.  (How is it that no one notices he has three toes, though?)  There’s also the drug scene to worry about.  Primarily, though, the movie does deal with issues of race and other things children probably wouldn’t catch.

It does look dated, but I’m not holding that against the movie.  I don’t think you could really do better with more of a budget here.  I’d recommend watching this movie, especially if you have Netflix and can stream it.  When I first watched it, Netflix didn’t offer an option for DVD.  It does look like it is now available on DVD, although that has a way of changing.

IMDb page

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