This week:
What Planet Are You From?

Filthy says:
"It's Not So Fucking Bad."

I'll keep it short and simple this week, folks, because I have a full slate scheduled for later at the Arvada Tavern. Let me happily say my string of unbearably bad movie has been broken, and by something I expected to be as bad as its lame title. While "What Planet Are You From" is no masterpiece, and it partially gets three fingers just for not sucking out loud, it also has some real laughs. Yes, the Filthy Critic laughed so hard at one point that my gum flew out and landed in my neighbor's popcorn. That's what the prick gets for hogging the arm rest the whole movie. Asshole.

Garry Shandling is from outer space. His people are incapable of feeling or loving, and they are plotting to overthrow Earth by infiltrating it. Because of his ability to fake compassion, Shandling is chosen to impregnate a human babe and get the ball rolling. Because his people have no cocks (unlike human males, especially me), so he is equipped with a vibrating, humming boner and sent out on his mission (if you think that sort of gag can get old fast, you are absolutely correct).

After the pickup lines he is taught on his home planet fail to impress the Earth gals (hey, Garry, you're not alone), he goes with Greg Kinnear, a sleazy bank loan agent, to nudie bars and Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. There he meets Annette Bening, who looks too old and tired for the role. After a whirlwind romance, they are married and work very hard to conceive a kid. Meanwhile, John Goodman is a Federal Aviation Authority (or Administration, it changes halfway through the movie) investigating a disturbance on a commercial jet. You see, with much flashing and shaking, Shandling comes and goes to his home planet through the plane's lavatory.

Once Bening successfully has a bun in the oven, Shandling's work is done, so he becomes the typical lazy husband, not interested in sex or talking. See, the joke is that men are from another planet and are incapable of relating to women. Boy, I've never heard a shitty comic on the Comedy Channel tell that one before.

As the baby is born, Goodman closes in on Shandling, who develops human feelings for both Bening and the baby. It leads to a climactic showdown among the aliens, Shandling and the humans.

"What Planet Are You From" feels like a bunch of really funny people forced to make a movie for the Lifetime Channel. Even with a lame premise designed to help women understand men (and really fucking pathetic men understand themselves), some of the funny shines through. It doesn't help that the movie's main premise was beaten to death in hack comedy clubs four years ago. I can only imagine how good a movie they could have made without being chained to such a stupid "Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus," gag. The fact that they managed to squeeze any laughs from it is a miracle.

I expected two hours of Garry Shandling's nasal braying would be about as pleasant as having my balls cut off with wire snippers. In fact, he was the best thing about the movie. He may be the most limited actor in the world, always playing the insecure, extremely unattractive egotist, but he stays within his limits and scores all of the move's good lines. Shandling was a very good stand up comic, with very good persona and timing, and when he tells jokes here, he's funny. If only he could have told different jokes. Shandling does lose points, though, for a hideous wardrobe of Izod shirts and golf pants. He looks like a car salesman on his day off.

Director Mike Nichols does an admirable job, too. He keeps it all goofy. I don't think he thought they were making anything more than a really dumb comedy. Only during the lame climax does he stop winking at the audience, and that's the movie's low-point. So many bad fucking comedies (i.e. "The Whole Nine Yards") get confused and think they are some fancy piece of clever art and it makes them ponderous piles of crap. It's just fucking comedy and thank God Nichols recognizes that.

The rest of the movie is a washout. John Goodman's subplot is tedious, and he isn't given much to do but deal with a whiny wife. As much as I love that fat tub of goo, the movie would have been better without his story. Annette Bening isn't required to do anything here. She can be pretty funny, but all that this movie asks is for someone Shandling can bounce jokes off of. Kinnear's character could have scored if he was anything but a broad stereotype of the sleazy man. In just one night at the Arvada Tavern, I can see sleazy assholes in ten variations, yet this movie only bothers to gives us the simplest version.

What sucked the worst here is the movie's assumption that the stereotypes created by fucking assholes like John Gray and other prick who've cashed in with "Men and Women Are Different" books are true. It assumes that books designed for people who need a tidy little explanation for everything are correct. Instead of making fun of that simplistic horseshit, it agrees with it. The real comedy would be in taking a red-hot poker and shoving it up Gray's ass. Oh, shit, I would pay to see that, over and over.

Finally, Shandling's limitations as an actor and human being make it hard to believe that he would become a caring person. As the movie progresses, we are supposed to believe that he is becoming human. Nope, doesn't work. When Shandling is an alien and acts like an alien, he's in his own skin. When he has to show real emotion, it gets goopy and he looks like someone's pinching him. Worst of all is the scene where he has to run. No human male, not even Brian Boitano, runs like that.

This is a bargain theater matinee movie. Even though it's mostly a chick movie, "What Planet Are You From" will not get us guys laid afterward (those movies will never star Garry Shandling). But, in a sea of shit, it keeps its head above the rest. Three fingers.

Want to tell Filthy Something?

Filthy's Reading
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - David Eggers

Listening to
Velvet Underground - White Light White Heat
Neil Hamburger - Left For Dead in Malaysia


Jim Ferguson of the Dish Network

Drowning Mona is the "Best dark comedy since 'A Fish Called Wanda!'"

What Planet are You From is "Hilarious! Off-the-wall comedy at its best!"

©2002 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All fucking rights Reserved