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What Planet are You From?

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: What Planet are You From?

Starring: Garry Shandling, Annette Bening
Director: Mike Nichols
Rated: R
RunTime: 104 Minutes
Release Date: March 2000
Genre: Comedy

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Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

After The Graduate, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Carnal Knowledge, Heartburn, even Primary Colors, there's no question that director Mike Nichols relishes exploring the relationship between the sexes. Which explains why he was drawn to comedian Garry Shandling's concept of an extraterrestrial who was sent to Earth to impregnate a woman as a part of some sort of universal domination plan. Having this alien come from an advanced civilization of neutered, cloned males with little knowledge of the behavior of the female of the species is a clever concept, ripe for scathing social satire, but its execution misses the mark. In addition to his writing and producing efforts, Shandling stars, utilizing his wry, dead-pan understatement to be an awkward, almost totally passive hero. The primary gimmick revolves around his surgically implanted penis which emits a motorized humming sound when he becomes aroused. The gag is amusing the first time, the second, even the third. After that, it loses its vibe. Posing as a banker in Phoenix, his copulating mission is simple. "I have to have sex right away," he gasps. "I'm really very horny!" A sleazy co-worker, played by Greg Kinnear, takes him to troll at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where he meets Annette Bening, a neurotic, lovable Earth-chick who is, indeed, easy. "Don't laugh," she says, "but I'm working as a real-estate agent" - a line that immediately elicits chuckles as a reminder of her role in American Beauty. Bening's terrific, while John Goodman, Linda Fiorentino, Camryn Manheim, Janeane Garofalo and Ben Kingsley add to the mix. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, What Planet Are You From? is a droll but silly, superficial 6. I suspect Garry Shandling will have a limited big-screen career as a leading man.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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