Enemy Mine is one of those strange cases where everything about the film makes it look like it’s going to be terrible, from the poster and the synopsis to the tagline (“Enemies because they were taught to be. Allies because they had to be. Brothers because they dared to be”), but it actually turns out to be pretty great.
In a universe where deep-space travel and barbaric warfare is the norm, Willis Davidge (Dennis Quaid) finds himself stranded on a desolate planet with no means of escape. It’s not long before he stumbles across another life form but, much to Willis’ chagrin, that life form just so happens to be a Drac called Jerry (Louis Gosset Jr), a member of an alien race that Willis was previously fighting in the intergalactic war.
He quickly realises that the only chance he has of getting off the planet is to team up with his sworn enemy. After a series of shared experiences and a lot of trash talk, the enemies eventually become allies, even if each one still thinks the other is a pain in the ass.
With the full-flung war, spaceships and deserted planets, Enemy Mine sets itself up as a hard science-fiction adventure, but rather surprisingly it gradually transforms into a comedy. The camaraderie that builds between Willis and Jerry is actually kind of sweet to watch. They don’t just become allies; they become friends, albeit friends that still brutally insult each other at every opportunity they get. It’s like a buddy road trip, but without the travelling bit. The space banter is strong with this one.
It’s also incredibly weird. From Dennis Quaid’s fake beard to an alien pregnancy, nothing about the film suggests that involved in the creative processes were taking it particularly seriously, but that all works in Enemy Mine’s favour. As with most Eighties sci-fi B-movies, the production values are kind of low, but still not even that takes away from how funny, weird, exciting and strangely emotional it can be.