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What Planet Are You From?

What Planet Are You From? (2000) Movie Poster
  •  USA  •    •  105m  •    •  Directed by: Mike Nichols.  •  Starring: Garry Shandling, Annette Bening, John Goodman, Greg Kinnear, Ben Kingsley, Judy Greer, Danny Zorn, Harmony Smith, Richard Jenkins, Linda Fiorentino, Caroline Aaron, Nora Dunn, Cricky Long.  •  Music by: Carter Burwell.
      A highly-evolved planet, whose denizens feel no emotion and reproduce by cloning, plans to take over Earth from the inside by sending an operative, fashioned with a humming, mechanical penis, to impregnate an earthling and stay until the birth. The alien, Harold Anderson, goes to Phoenix as a banker and sets to work finding a mate. His approaches to women are inept, and the humming phallus doesn't help, but on the advice of a banking colleague, he cruises an AA meeting, meets Susan, and somehow convinces her to marry. The clock starts to tick: will she conceive, have a baby, and lose Harold (and the child) to his planet before he discovers emotion and starts to care?

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Review:

Image from: What Planet Are You From? (2000)
Image from: What Planet Are You From? (2000)
Image from: What Planet Are You From? (2000)
Image from: What Planet Are You From? (2000)
Image from: What Planet Are You From? (2000)
Image from: What Planet Are You From? (2000)
Image from: What Planet Are You From? (2000)
Image from: What Planet Are You From? (2000)
WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM? (2000) Garry Shandling, Annette Bening, John Goodman, Greg Kinnear, Ben Kingsley, Linda Fiorentino, Caroline Aaron, Nora Dunn, Camryn Manheim, Ann Cusack, Richard Jenkins, Janeane Garofalo (cameo). Garry Shandling, with his pinched expression suggesting comical disdain and quixotic confusion, makes his first starring bid as a film star (he has been on the silver screen prior to this ambitious effort in cameo roles here and there, but this is his first legitimate lead role) in the wildly funny sci-fi comedy that attempts to answer, really, are Women From Venus and Men From Mars? Shandling (who co- wrote the sharply funny screenplay with Michael Lesson, Ed Solomon & Peter Tolan), is the chosen cloned eunoch from a race of male aliens from a distant planet making final plans to invade Earth with his sole mission of achievement to get the wheels greased and running: to impregnate a woman.

Seen in an assembled display of how to react to an Earth woman's conversations (the reliable and ubiquitous response of a barely interested: `uh-huh'), he clearly has his work cut out for him, particularly with the fact he has to have his sexual appendage attached for said close encounter (giving an all new meaning to `alien probing'). With a few words of wisdom by his leader Graydon (Kingsley) he is beamed aboard a commercial airliner and winds up in Seattle as the assumed identity of a Harold Anderson and walks into an unsuspecting bank as their awaited new accounts manager. Met by the smarmy Perry Gordon (Kinnear oozing oily malfeasance with canny glee), his soon-to-be rival, he quickly attempts to find his mate to be (only after several hilarious attempts from the airplane to his new job and the fact his member noisily vibrates whenever he's aroused).

At an AA meeting (Perry explains it being one of the best pick-up spots in town for vulnerable women), he is taken by a recovering alcoholic named Susan Hart (the beguilingly sublimely funny Bening) and sets his phaser for stun.

After hooking up with her in an unlikely situation and one date he explains to her in no uncertain terms that he wants to have a child. Susan, thinking finally a real man in touch with his emotional core, succumbs to his sweet yet eager charms and accepts his impromptu marriage proposal the next day. From there they honeymoon in Vegas with a marathon of sex (`126 times' he says matter-of-factly upon returning to work much to the amazement of Perry) figuring the seed has been planted and to just wait it out. What next comes is a series of truly unsettling changes in his being: namely emotions and finally realizing just what will become of his only child.

Shandling - who has already become an icon with his pitch perfect accuracy of skewering the world of show business in the classic HBO series `The Larry Sanders Show' and his self-deprecating sexual hang-ups - scores big laughs as the alien with a heart (despite his overachieving goal of surpassing his horniness to save his race!), and makes this heavily trodded hybrid genre (heck go back to Robin Williams in `Mork & Mindy' or all the way back to Jerry Lewis as a misfit extraterrestrial in `Visit To A Small Planet') a welcome return. Getting his smart alecky alien to parallel the real off-balance of the sexes with men roles as being piggish louts who'd rather watch the game on the tube than actually talk to the women in their lives is one large step he attempts and neatly dispatches, as well as the well-timed deflations of pick-up lines he uses apparently circa 1965 with much hilarity ensuing.

Bening proves to be a truly giften comic actress (hell her first big role in cinema was the John CandyDan Aykroyd romp `The Great Outdoors' and has shown up more recently in her acclaimed Oscar nominated turn in the pitch black comedydrama, `American Beauty') and matches Shandling step by step as the confused 12 stepper attempting to find some footing in her second chance at some sort of life; she gives the film its soul.

Goodman is in fine form as well as Roland Jones, the FAA agent who seems to be channeling Fox Mulder from `The X-Files' (hey one small quibble, why the HELL didn't Shandling even attempt to ask his good buddy David Duchovny, so furiously funny for his guest star shots on `Sanders', in a little piece of stunt casting??), who is hell bent to prove the alien exists when he's not busy trying to save his marriage to the suspicious Nadine (Aaron, a fine comic character actress best remembered as Woody Allen's sister in `Hannah And Her Sisters') who has many of the film's best lines: (after accusing Goodman of eyeballing a female co-worker: GOODMAN: `She's in a wheelchair, Nadine!' AARON: `Yeah, and don't think she doesn't play that for all it's worth!') Kinnear is proving to be a fine comic actor in his own right as the pompous skirt chasing Perry (although I found it unlikely since his spouse Helen is played by the incredibly hot Fiorentino - who also gets one of the film's best lines; after hearing Shandling's audible arousal: SHANDLING `It's my penis.it hums'. Beat. FIORENTINO: `Guess it doesn't know the words.') Directed by one of the living legends of comedy, Mike Nichols, the film ricochets with razor-gleaned timing, excellent performances and the ability of making a comedy that mines its laughs as well as aim for romantics in the long run: now that's an achievement!


Review by george.schmidt from the Internet Movie Database.