Heavy-handed satire leaves the derivative sci-fi comedy WELCOME TO PLANET EARTH grounded.
Charlie (George Wendt) and Rhonda (Shanna Reed) are an unnaturally cheerful bourgeois husband and wife serving time for murder in a maximum-security prison. Flashbacks relate how they arrived one dark and stormy night at a ghetto boardinghouse inherited by Joseph Collins (Christopher M. Brown), a
young petty crook trying to go straight. The chatty couple claim to be tourists on a sightseeing trip with voluptuous grown daughter Daphne (Anastasia Sakelaris), and make themselves comfortable despite the neighborhood squalor and violent crime. Or perhaps because of it; after studying some
homeless vagrants, Charlie and Rhonda start hanging around warehouses and alleys, provoking attacks by assorted muggers and gangs, whom they happily slaughter (taking snapshots of the carnage), all in the name of self-defense. Meanwhile a homesick Daphne warms up to Joseph, and they begin dating,
much to the delight of her parents, who openly encourage the pair to have sex. In addition to their bizarre outlook, the "vacationers" sport gooey green blood, super-strength, paralyzing ray weapons, and a vehicle parked on top of the boarding-house. Yes, they're humanoid aliens looking for a good
time, and when police arrest Joseph as the culprit in the mass killings, Charlie and Rhonda are content to frame the innocent landlord and leave for their home planet. Daphne won't agree, however, and breaks her bewildered human lover out of jail. As cops close in, she takes Joseph with her in the
family space coupe, after convincing Charlie and Rhonda to remain behind and give Earth prison a chance.
TV sitcom stars Wendt ("Cheers") and Reed ("Major Dad") seem to be having fun with their upbeat, Norman Rockwell middle-class, middle-American attitudes as they enthusiastically kick, shoot, bludgeon, and dismember street punks, the blood splashing their tacky polyester clothes. But it's a gag
that gets very old very quickly (so does the aliens' casual use of obscene language), as the filmmakers take a satirical cudgel to such achingly familiar targets as brutish police, violence-obsessed media, and crack dealers. Although producer Roger Corman ventured memorably into such subversive
territory before, with contempo horror-comedies like LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960), BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959) and later remakes/retreads, all WELCOME TO PLANET EARTH boils down to is an R-rated mimic of the NBC-TV situation comedy "Third Rock From the Sun," with quite a bit of male wish fulfillment
as the mildly culture-shocked space visitors gleefully exterminate urban predators, and an enticing alien girl surrenders her charms to the sympathetic Joseph. Director Lev L. Spiro's camera doesn't dwell on the skimpy gore effects, even when a victim gets beaten with his own severed leg.
Meanwhile, the interplanetary craft looks like nothing more than a fancy go-cart, and flies about as convincingly. (Graphic violence, profanity, substance abuse, nudity, adult situations, sexual situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: Heavy-handed satire leaves the derivative sci-fi comedy WELCOME TO PLANET EARTH grounded. Charlie (George Wendt) and Rhonda (Shanna Reed) are an unnaturally cheerful bourgeois husband and wife serving time for murder in a maximum-security prison. Flashbac… (more)