What Planet Are You From? (1999)

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Released 21-Mar-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Isolated Musical Score
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Making Of
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 100:37
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (51:27) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Mike Nichols

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Garry Shandling
Annette Bening
Greg Kinnear
Ben Kingsley
Linda Fiorentino
John Goodman
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music Carter Burwell

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I had not heard of What Planet Are You From? until I saw this DVD, and became a little concerned when I saw the relatively high profile cast list. As everyone knows, when you have not heard of a film with a high profile cast there is usually good reason...unfortunately this thinking holds true for this film. This is a fish-out-of-water comedy that fails to deliver throughout.

    The movie is based around an alien, Harold Anderson (Garry Shandling), who comes from a technologically advanced civilization containing only cloned males that for some reason all appear different. It is his race's intention to colonize Earth, gaining control from the inside by reproducing and having their offspring rise to positions of power.

    Harold's mission on earth is to conceive a child with a human female, a task made difficult as his race have lost both their emotions and their reproductive abilities. In order to complete his mission, Harold is fitted with artificial genitalia which hums when he is aroused. Unfortunately, the alien's information in regards to Earth customs is lacking significant details and this poses numerous problems for Harold.

    This film is never able to escape the terrible plot and script that was written by Garry Shandling and Michael Leeson. The film was directed by Mike Nichols who has previously directed films such as The Graduate, Primary Colors, Working Girl and The Birdcage. While the cast seem to have enjoyed making this film, as evidenced by their comments in the short behind-the-scenes featurette on the DVD, they are unable to give it any real direction. The performances from Annette Bening, Ben Kingsley, Greg Kinnear and John Goodman are all good, but the material they have to work with lets them down.

    The failure of this film must be blamed upon Garry Shandling, who wrote the story and the screenplay, co-produced the film and was also the lead character. Previously, we have seen Garry produce some excellent comic works such as The Larry Sanders Show, but unfortunately this effort never loses the feeling that it should have been produced as a short comedy skit.

   One thing to note when watching the start of the movie is that the head on the Columbia Pictures logo has been replaced with that of Annette Bening.

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Transfer Quality


    This transfer is another example of the excellent transfers we now expect from Columbia Tristar. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer remains consistently sharp throughout except for one very brief scene featuring Annette Bening at 66:40. The transfer shows no low level noise and exhibits excellent shadow detail at all times.

    The colour is accurate throughout and shows no irregularities.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen at any time during the film. Aliasing is almost non-existent in this transfer and only appears slightly during a shot of a car grill at 71:45. Film artefacts are very rarely seen during this transfer and at no time are they distracting. One of the small number of occasions that film artefacts occur can be seen at 32:06 for a single frame.

    There are 17 different subtitles presented for the feature. I viewed the English titles and they seemed to be constantly accurate. I was unable to check the accuracy of the other subtitle tracks.

    The layer change occurs at 51:27 between scenes and is slightly disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio presented on this disc is consistently of good quality but never impresses the listener with its implementation.

    There are two Dolby Digital 5.1 448Kb/s audio tracks provided for the feature, in both English and German. I listened primarily to the English track but also sampled the German.

    At no stage were there any problems with audio sync on the English track. The German track had the usual sync issues but appeared to be a reasonable quality dub.

    The score by Carter Burwell is never imposing and suits the feature well but is quite forgettable.

    The surround and sub channels are used throughout the movie to provide support for the score and sound effects.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    A minimal selection of extras is provided, comprised of filmographies, a trailer, an isolated score and a very brief behind-the-scenes featurette.


    The static menu is presented at 1.33:1 with a short animation between selections. No background audio is provided.

Dolby Digital Trailer - City

    Presented at 1.33:1, it would be nice to see one of the other newer trailers instead of this.

Talent Profiles

    Two or three short pages of information and selected filmographies are provided for Mike Nichols, Garry Shandling, Annette Bening, Linda Fiorentino, Greg Kinnear, John Goodman and Ben Kingsley.

Theatrical Trailer

    Presented in a ratio of 1.33:1 this trailer exhibits high quantities of film and aliasing artefacts. Both English and German Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks are supplied along with Dutch subtitles.

Behind-the-Scenes Featurette

    This short featurette is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and with both German and Dutch subtitles. There are numerous examples of dot-crawl that can be seen throughout the featurette with clear examples of this in the opening credits and in a person's shirt at 1:53. This featurette contains a short selection of interviews mixed with clips from the movie and contains very little actual information.

Isolated Music Score

    The isolated score from Carter Burwell is presented as a Dolby Digital 5.1 448Kb/s track. It contains frequent long segments of silence.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     As both versions of this film appear to be nearly identical I would have no preference for either version.


    What Planet Are You From? is a comedy that fails to deliver presented with an excellent quality transfer and minimal extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Thursday, March 22, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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