TIME now for Das Star Trek. Unpredictable Wolfgang Petersen of "Das Boot" and "The Neverending Story" directs the entertaining action fantasy "Enemy Mine," with Louis Gossett Jr. and Dennis Quaid as space pilots in a faraway solar system.
Enemies, the two are marooned together on a cratered, craggy planet bombarded by meteor storms and inhabited by deadly omnivores shaped like furious coathangers.
Quaid plays Davidge, a bitter and bigoted Earthman, with Gossett as Jeriba Shigan, a Drac from the planet Dracon (where else?). He looks like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, evolved, with Gossett's eyes and mouth showing through the reptilian Drac mask. The actor often relies on mime in this convincing otherworldly role, cocking his head in a gesture borrowed from Stevie Wonder.
Jeriba meditates a lot, singing weird prayers, a kind of reverent gargling. And Davidge learns to gargle along. Some months after the pilots have resolved their racial hatred for the sake of survival and learned that they can become friends, Jeriba, a hermaphrodite, becomes pregnant.
Angered by Davidge's nagging about chores, he finally spills the beans: "I am not fat. I am not lazy. I await a new life." Davidge, gone all agape as menfolk are supposed to do, snaps, "Well don't look at me"
Taking more than a few pages from the Harrison Ford handbook, Quaid turns his character into a cosmic copy of Indiana Jones.
Both he and Gossett are likable performers and they create characters that are a match for any in a standard "Star Trek" episode. Added to that are the impressive interstellar sets and the excellent effects by George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic. A rubber baby Drac, however, does look like a Cabbage Patch reject.
If you are a science-fiction fan (and I am), "Enemy Mine" is a fun diversion, maintaining a precarious balance between laughable and melodramatic. But you do get the feeling they had hoped for an earth-shaking metaphor.