There have been quite a few films to be adapted from Saturday Night Live sketches into full-length features, and the movie Coneheads, based on the alien family from the SNL sketches, is likely one not too many people saw coming. Especially since the sketch first debuted in the 1970s and the movie didn’t come out until 1993. Still, that doesn’t mean the film isn’t worth checking out, and you can do so now by streaming it on Paramount+.
The Coneheads turned a Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Dan Aykroyd and Jane Kurtin into a hysterical feature film.
Coneheads stars Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin, who both played the same roles in the original SNL sketches, and Michelle Burke, who took over the SNL role played by Laraine Newman (who would play a different role as the aunt of her previous character). Loren Michaels produced with Steve Barron directing. The script was penned by Aykroyd, Tom Davis, Bonnie Turner, and Terry Turner.
Coneheads follows a family of aliens who find themselves stranded in New Jersey after their recon mission to Earth goes off track, leading them to be forced to live as suburbanites. While the film doesn’t recycle the sketches from the show and expands the concept into an actual plot, the film does follow a lot of the plot beats from the animated special, which aired ten years prior to the film’s release. Still, the film is funny and fairly charming, which is more than you can say about half of the SNL films adapted from sketches.
Of course, another big draw of watching Coneheads is the veritable who’s who of comedic talents who either star or cameo at some point throughout the film. As you might expect from an SNL film in the 90s, the stars definitely came through.
Coneheads is stacked with talent, featuring appearances from almost every 90s comedian.
Along with Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Michelle Burke, and Laraine Newman, the film also features roles from (deep breath) Michael McKean, David Spade, Chris Farley, Sinbad, Michael Richards, Eddie Griffin, Phil Hartman, Adam Sandler, Mitchell Bobrow, Jason Alexander, Lisa Jane Persky, Dave Thomas, Garrett Morris, Drew Carey, Kevin Nealon, Jan Hooks, Parker Posey, Joey Lauren Adams, Julia Sweeney, Ellen DeGeneres, Tim Meadows, Tom Davis, Peter Aykroyd, Jonathan Penner, Whip Hubley, Mark Fulton, Jon Lovitz, and Tom Arnold.
Coneheads certainly wasn’t very well-received upon its release, with the film getting mostly negative reviews and only pulling in $21.2 million at the box office by the end of its theatrical run. However, the film has been re-evaluated years later, as critics noticed that it was actually a fairly sharp satirical take on the immigrant family experience in America in the wake of Reagan-era politics. The film’s depiction of the immigrant experience became even more relevant following the September 11 attacks.
Coneheads mixed reviews and middling box office performance are fitting since it actually falls right in the middle when comparing its box office to other SNL films. Out of the 11 Saturday Night Live films that have been released, it falls at the number six spot for box office performance. Of course, Wayne’s World sits at the top of that list with a $183 million worldwide gross against a budget of $20 million.
Coneheads earned $21 million at the box office, putting it in the exact middle of Saturday Night Live movies.
While Coneheads doesn’t stand amongst the best SNL films, it’s definitely a solid comedy that manages to take a sketch premise to the screen without overstaying its welcome. It doesn’t quite reach the highs of the best SNL sketch adaptations like Wayne’s World and The Blues Brothers, but it makes a valiant effort. Plus, it served as an inspiration for another ‘aliens becoming suburban Earthers’ series that would come just a few years later.
After releasing Coneheads, writers Bonnie & Terry Turner and star Jane Curtin would come together for the series 3rd Rock from the Sun, a sitcom about aliens trying to fit into Earth society. Jan Hooks, Phil Hartman, Julia Sweeney, Kevin Nealon, and Laraine Newman appeared in Coneheads and would also appear in 3rd Rock from the Sun in guest roles. If you like the former, then the latter is definitely a sitcom that’s worth checking out, and you can actually stream it on Philo.
So, if you’re looking for a solid sci-fi comedy, make sure to check out Coneheads on Paramount+. If you’re a fan of Dan Aykroyd, you can also look forward to seeing him in the upcoming Ghostbusters sequel. That film is set for a 2024 release.