“Sweet, funny, clever comedy seeks crossover” would be the Craigslist come-on for “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same,” and it may well come true via Madeleine Olnek’s wry homage to ’50s sci-fi, urban dating and interspecies romance. “Codependent” could pass as a family film, given the right family. But small arthouse and huge DVD/VOD seem more likely.
On the planet Zots, the ozone layer is being depleted because of too much “big feeling”: Left unchecked, individual Zotsians radiate love, which destroys the atmosphere. To save their planet, several women of Zots travel to the Earth — where hearts are routinely broken — to find someone who will love them, dump them and render them environmentally friendly.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, the good-natured but lonely Jane (Lisa Haas) is working in a New York stationery store into which all manner of Manhattan oddballs wander to use the copy machine, so it’s not that strange to Lisa when she’s confronted by Zoinx (Susan Ziegler) or for that matter, the visitor’s strange mating rituals (Zotsians hold each other’s noses for erotic satisfaction). Meanwhile, the sexual trajectories of two other aliens — Zylar (Jackie Monahan) and Barr (Cynthia Kaplan) — are on a collision course, which will make them (metaphor alert!) an outsider minority among codependent lesbian space aliens.
The pic’s seat-of-the-pants aesthetic recalls “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and the interplanetary paranoia of is genre; the odd-couple romance (and a scene near the Queensboro Bridge) suggests Woody Allen’s “Manhattan”; the parallel storyline of two government agents (Dennis Davis, Alex Karpovsky) is a little bit “X-Files.” But Olnek’s sensibility is singular, and the work of the cast — notably the sweetfaced Haas and the hilariously robotic Ziegler — make for a movie that seeks, and earns, affection.
Production values are appropriately Eisenhower-era when they need to be; the Zots language consists of dialogue run backwards, and the skullcaps on the aliens won’t sucker anyone. But Clay Drinko’s music and d.p. Nat Bouman’s on-the-run New York shooting lock the film into contemporary times.