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Reviews for the week of March 6, 2000.

Monday:
What Planet Are You From?

What Planet Are You From?
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What Planet Are You From? is a capricious comedy about a space alien visiting Earth.

That would be Harold (Garry Shandling), whose mission is to have a child with an Earth woman. (If aliens become part of the Earth population, Harold's planet will eventually be able to take over Earth.) As there are no women on his planet (babies are grown in test tubes using advanced DNA technology), Harold has no experience with sex and romance. Obviously, this leads him into some terribly amusing situations.

Harold becomes interested in Susan Hart (Annette Bening), a recovering alcoholic who wants to marry Harold before she sleeps with him. So, he proposes, and quickly marries her.

Meanwhile, John Goodman plays an airline employee who is desperate to find proof that Harold is an alien. (For one thing, it will convince his suspicious wife he isn't having an affair.) Apparently Harold caused quite a stir when he beamed onto an airplane en route to Earth.

Audio VersionWhat Planet Are You From isn't the funniest comedy I've seen, but it is certainly amusing. The talented cast and constantly funny dialogue kept me laughing.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Friday:
Wonder Boys

Wonder Boys
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Wonder Boys is a fascinating film starring Michael Douglas as Grady Tripp, a haggard college professor/best-selling author with a plethora of problems.

For starters, his girlfriend, Sara (Frances McDormand) is pregnant by Grady, but they are both still married to other people.

Then there's James Leer (Tobey Maguire), a very strange student who tells Grady a pack of lies and shoots Sara's dog. Although troublesome, James seems to be a talented writer.

And let's not forget that Grady, having penned a best- seller seven years earlier, is struggling to finish his second novel. Writer's block and a penchant for pot get in the way of this endeavor.

Michael Douglas is a terrific actor, and the supporting cast is also excellent. The plot of Wonder Boys is comical and serious at the same time.

Only two flaws exist in this plot: The ending is somewhat predictable, but that can be forgiven. What really bothered me was that James Leer never really got much of an explanation. I was sure that such an amusing, unusual, and obviously deep character would have quite a story behind him - but we never hear it. (At least, we never hear the real story - as I mentioned earlier, James does feed Grady several packs of lies.)

Audio VersionOtherwise, Wonder Boys is a wonderful film and I highly recommend it.

My Rating = Three Stars

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