What Planet Are You From? | Chicago Reader

What Planet Are You From?

Garry Shandling hails from an all-male planet whose inhabitants have lost the ability to reproduce. After an intensive indoctrination program that's supposed to make him irresistible, he's fitted with a prosthetic penis and sent to earth to procreate. The penis hums like a pager, a running gag that's no funnier the 19th time than the first. But this SF spoof is more effective as satire than comedy, piling up genre elements—including a fed who knows Shandling's an alien though no one believes him—that almost disguise its earnestness. The initially cartoonish Shandling hits on Annette Bening, who plays it straight as a vulnerable woman with a loudly ticking biological clock. But as he realizes that crude pickup lines don't work and begins to doubt the wisdom of his planet's leader (Ben Kingsley), the question of whether he'll become more "human" takes on allegorical significance. The buildup to social criticism in what at first appears to be pointless and partly misogynist exploitation is subtly impressive. Mike Nichols directed a screenplay by Michael Leeson, Ed Solomon, Peter Tolan, and Shandling; with John Goodman and Greg Kinnear.

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