We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
Sometimes, an alien teen has to learn to make his way on Earth. Other times, they have very human problems while still on their home planet. Whether he wants to just fit in or she wants to see the world, alien teens are just like the terrestrial variety. This weekend’s I Am Number Four tries to show us, once again, just how hard it can be to be an alien teen. You have to get good grades in school and run away from a killer trying to track you down. Below are some of my favorites.
7. Lem from Planet 51 (2009)
Recap: Lem (voiced by Justin Long) is just a geeky alien teen trying to get noticed by the girl next door, Neera (voiced by Jessica Biel).Until the day that a strange alien from Earth (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) lands in Lem’s backyard during the family barbecue and starts a chain reaction that will upend his life.
Reason: Despite not living on Earth, Lem exhibits all the classic marks of being a movie teen. He has bad self-esteem, a geeky hobby, a crush on the hot girl-next-door that he refuses to tell her about, and a yearning for a more exciting life. He would be higher on my list but his movie isn’t that good.
6. Connie Conehead from Coneheads (1993)
Recap: Teen Connie Conehead (Michelle Burke) wants to fit in with the other kids at school and be allowed to date. Unfortunately, she has a ginormous cone on the top of her head. Also, her parents are even weirder than the norm.
Reason: It was hard being a teen in the early ’90s in New Jersey. It’s even harder if you look different. How do you feather your bangs when you’re bald? Connie deals with this and other pressing problems. Unfortunately, she’s pretty whiny and annoying. She gets more points for accuracy than likability.
5. Kara Zor-El/Linda Lee as Supergirl (1984)
Recap: Kryptoian teen Kara (Helen Slater) lives in isolated Argo City. After losing her city’s power source, she follows it to Earth in an attempt to recover it. While there, she develops the secret identity of Linda Lee and goes undercover in a girl’s high school while trying to complete her mission and save her home city.
Reason: Kara’s not really a normal teen trying to fit in, she’s an alien with superpowers on a mission. She’s also stuck with a convoluted and sexist plot. If you had an object that gave you infinite powers, would you use it to make a groundskeeper fall in love with you? I don’t care how hot he is, aim higher!
4. Tony from Return From Witch Mountain (1978)
Recap: Young teen alien Tony (Ike Eisenmann) and his sister, Tia (Kim Richards), come down from their home on Witch Mountain for a fun trip to LA. It becomes less fun when Tony is kidnapped by a mad scientist (Christopher Lee) and a crazy lady (Bette Davis) to harvest his special powers or whatever.
Reason: Tony and Tia don’t live a normal Earth existence, they’re aliens living in a secret enclave with the other surviving members of their race. But they win points for pizazz. It’s way cooler to have special powers than to just worry about dating. On the other hand, they’re always getting captured. I know their young but still, you have alien powers!
3. Jen and Kira from The Dark Crystal (1982)
Recap: Gelflings Jen (voiced by Stephen Garlick, puppeteered by Jim Henson and Kiren Shah) and Kira (voiced by Lisa Maxwell, puppeteered by Kathryn Mullen) have grown up in isolated communities among different species because they are the last of their kind. When the evil Skeksis discover that they’re alive, they set out to murder them. Jen and Kira’s only hope is a shard of the dark crystal, given to Jen by his protectors, the Mystics.
Reason: I don’t know if Jen and Kira are technically in their teen years, but their coming of age story suggests that they are the Gelfling equivalent. Jen is the bookish nerd of the Gelfling world, raised by the a tribe who values learning over other arts. Kira lives among the Podlings, a friendly, social tribe who’ve taught her about nature and survival skills. They’re not typical teens in the modern, American sense, but they have elements of the classic quest stories. The two learn to trust one another and fall in love while changing the world. Also I love this movie, so props to that.
2. Luke and Leia Skywalker from Star Wars IV: A New Hope (1977)
Recap: Tatooine farm boy Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) wants a more exciting life. When his (SPOILER ALERT) sister, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), a more self-possessed teen who’s involved in an intergalactic war, sends a distress message that he intercepts, his life becomes much more interesting.
Reason: Sure, in this first film Luke’s a little annoying. But they’re still some of the most kickass space teens ever. He’ll learn to use a lightsaber and develop his Jedi powers. Plus he has his own droids! They’re only protocol droids, but still. Leia, on the other hand, is a cool chick from the get-go. She’s no Jedi, but she can handle a blaster with the best of them. Plus she’s only 19 and a rebel leader! You’d have to be pretty awesome to beat them….
1. Kal-El/Clark Kent from Superman (1978)
Recap: Kyptonian infant Kal-El (later played by Christopher Reeve) is launched to Earth by his father while his birth planet falls apart. Once he lands, he’s adopted by the childless Kent couple who rename him Clark and raise him as their own. He goes to school and pretends to be a normal teen, but feels frustrated that he can never reveal his powers to his classmates.
Reason: Clark Kent has it rough. He knows that he could be the most awesome guy in school if only he could show that he can fly, run faster than a speeding bullet, and melt things with his eyes. Instead, he poses as a geeky teen, who’s also super hot. He never really hides his hotness so I have a hard time thinking he wouldn’t be a little more popular. Unlike the other aliens on this list, he really only spends a small part of the movie as a teen before moving on to adulthood and developing his Superman persona. But even so, Superman powers dwarf anything on this list, including Jedi skills.