I’M TOTALLY FINE: 3 STARS. “actors bring humanity to the alien premise.”
Like “Starman,” the 1984 Jeff Bridges movie about an alien who returns to Earth in the form of a heartbroken widow’s late husband, a new film is an out-of-this-world exploration of grief.
In “I’m Totally Fine,” a new dark comedy now on VOD, Jillian Bell plays Vanessa, a young woman struggling to clear her head after the sudden death of her best friend and business partner Jennifer (Natalie Morales).
Alone at the rental home, where she was planning a party to celebrate the success of their shared soft drink company, she is startled when someone—or something—who looks exactly like her late friend turns up in the kitchen. The strange situation becomes even stranger when new Jennifer (Morales) says she is an extraterrestrial, loaded with all of Jennifer memories, sent to Earth for forty-eight hours to study civilization. “Jennifer remains deceased,” says the species observation officer, “I am simply an extraterrestrial who has taken her form.”
Over the next two days, reluctantly at first, Vanessa undergoes tests and begins to understand the meaning of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s words, “’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
“I’m Totally Fine” is an undeniably weird odd-couple movie about the power of connection and the importance of letting go.
Bell is understated as she cycles through Vanessa’s stages of grief. “It might be fun to see how unstable I can get,” she says. Her world is inside out, but as alien Jennifer looks on, making notes—”Human has turned anger on herself.”—that actually help Vanessa punch a hole into the melancholy that hangs over her like a veil.
The far showier role belongs to Morales. As a monotone alien who is often bewildered by humanity, her unabashedly odd performance becomes endearing as she becomes the catapult for Vanessa’s catharsis. It’s a trick to find the balance between quirky and compassion, and Morales nails it.
Despite its odd story, “I’m Totally Fine” doesn’t go anywhere you don’t see coming, but the performances bring some real humanity to the alien premise.