What Planet Are You From? Mike Nichols Lame, Embarrassing Sci-Fi Comedy

One of Mike Nichols’s weakest, most embarrassing film, What Planet Are You From? is a sci-fi romantic comedy, starring Garry Shandling in his big-screen debut.

A conceptual if lame comedy, the movie indicates the desperate efforts of Nichols, an intelligent director pushing 70, to demonstrate that he can deliver a smart and timely picture.

Shandling, who is not a conventional leading man, plays Harold, an alien from another galaxy sent to Earth on a mission to ensure that his species will prevail.  To accomplish his goal, Harold must impregnate an Earth woman.

In the process, lacking any courtship (and other vital) skills, he realizes that this is more easily said than done. Just when Harold thinks he’s making progress in human seduction, he discovers that the males of his planet don’t interact properly with women on Earth, which means that he needs all kinds of help (including some bizarre gadgets) to complete his assignment.

The supporting cast is composed of intelligent actors, such as Annette Bening, John Goodman, Ben Kingsley, and Camryn Manheim, all of whom are wasted, delivering the kinds of performances that they would later regret, wishing to erase them from their otherwise respectable resumes.

There are some mildly amusing vignettes (centering in Shandling’s crotch) and almost but not quite witty sexual innuendoes, but overall the comedy is childish and infantile in the worst senses of these terms.

Shandling, who co-wrote the script, goes for broad and crass comedy, but his style and sensibility do not match those of Nichols, who has never sunk so low to reach viewers and has never been so vulgar.