Starring: Ines De Tavira, Juan Pablo Campa, Paco de la Fuente
Director: Jesús Magaña Vázquez
Running Time: 82 mins
Me And The Alien (El Alien y yo) is a Mexican film about a punk band who, while trying to recruit a keyboard player, come across Pepe, a talented player, but eccentric to the point that he’s known as ‘The Alien’. With him now on board, the band experiences a surge in popularity as they refresh their sound, but his presence upsets the balance of the group.
This is one of the loveliest hidden gems I’ve ever come across. Not only is Me And The Alien a fantastic independent movie, but it’s one with all the brains, heart, drama, humour and music tomatch even the best that the big boys have to offer, and over the course of a short but sweet 82 minutes, it makes a big impact with a both delightful yet still engrossing story of friendship, fame and everything in between.
You’ve seen band movies before, but what makes this film a little bit more special is how it blends the band’s rise to popularity with a strong focus of the relationships between the four members, from the highs to the deep, dark lows. The main story centres around what happens when The Alien, Pepe, a talented keyboard player with Down syndrome, joins the band, and how his presence affects both their popularity, as well as the sanctity between his fellow members.
That part of the plot alone is riveting enough, as although The Alien himself isn’t all that active at the centre of the story, he makes a big impact on the other characters, all the while proving a massively likable and relatable central figure who, albeit not perfect, will easily win your heart over from the moment he appears on screen.
Those other characters, the original three band members, are arguably the film’s most dramatically engrossing element. The dramatic decline of harmony within the band (as is unfortunately the case with so many music groups) is fascinating to watch unfold, as we see the effects of fame and fortune work differently on each individual, with our leading lady and her boyfriend’s relationship in particular suffering heavily.
What’s great about the story here is that it’s got the high drama and tension to keep you glued to the screen, but it’s also full of genuine heart throughout, as although the band goes through difficulties when they start to fall out, hope shines through in the form of The Alien himself, always proving a truly delightful lead to turn back to when things seem desperate.
However, don’t think that this film is just a simple drama, because the reason that it stands out so much in my mind is because of how it uses humour as well. While it has undoubtedly riveting drama throughout, the film’s brightness, vibrance and sense of humour is what makes it so characterful and pleasant to watch.
On the one hand, it’s a simple case of a very well-written screenplay complete with great comedy throughout. Although Me And The Alien doesn’t aim to be a raucous, laugh-out-loud romp, there are some properly funny moments where I was really chuckling hard, all surrounded by a generally strong comedic atmosphere and consistently entertaining gags well spread throughout.
On the other hand, the film’s eccentricities, particularly in its music, are what really make it special. Originally, the band plays heavy punk rock, but upon the arrival of The Alien and his techno keyboard, the band previously known as ‘Da Feels’ become the technoanarcumbia band known as ‘The Pastel Pigs and The Alien’, playing a bizarre but unique blend of techno music, a bit of punk rock and the cumbia genre famous in Latin America.
That unique take on the musical genre means that all of the songs throughout the film (and there are a fair few) are an absolute joy to watch. Not only does the story take the musical breaks as an opportunity to effectively develop the story, by focusing on how the band’s changing relationship can be seen through their music, but also it allows you to sit back and revel in some of the strangest and yet most enjoyable and catchy tunes you’ll see in a film like this, and I can honestly say that I’ll be looking to listen to a couple of the tracks again, something that you can’t say for a whole lot of music movies.
Overall, I had an absolute blast with Me And The Alien. Complete with strong characters and performances that make the central dramatic story both riveting and heartwarming throughout, while the upbeat, vibrant and energetic comedic atmosphere makes for an equally entertaining watch, completed with a series of delightful jingles and melodies throughout that make the movie sing with joy at every moment, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.3.