A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Visit to a Small Planet is a fish-out-of-water comedy form the 1960s that is often focused on teaching a spaceman/alien about sex and watching a young man's efforts to get his sweetheart into bed. Frequent kissing, sexual innuendo, and flimsy humorous seduction techniques are key plot elements. There's some drinking and smoking; a lengthy scene takes place in a beatnik bar where glassy-eyed, tipsy, or high customers sit behind a veil of cigarette smoke. Farcical action includes a fist fight, tear gas, gun shot, and more.
What's the story?
Disobeying orders, the very immature Kreton (Jerry Lewis at the height of his mugging and comic mayhem) ventures far from his own planet to study life on Earth. He lands in a world of business executives, TV personalities, and a naive young beauty whose innocence is sorely tested by an eager suitor. Kreton's presence impacts everyone and, in a series of improbable incidents, his curiousity is satisfied, he changes the lives of several characters, and, at least minimally, begins to grow up.
Is it any good?
Based on an acclaimed play -- Gore Vidal's parody of the Communist witch hunt in the 1950s -- this filmed version of VISIT TO A SMALL PLANET has been turned into standard Jerry Lewis silliness. The "special" effects are purposefully cheesy; the acting is broad; and what story there is simply showcases Jerry Lewis hi-jinks. Kids may appreciate the pratfall humor, but the "wink-wink" sexual repartee compromises the innocent fun.
One hilarious scene in a beatnik bar with Buddy Rich on drums, and an extraordinary dance number, may be enough to make the film worth a look if you don't mind the "opium den" atmosphere of the place.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the very simple, almost nostaglic, nature of the special effects in this film from 1960. Compare with the techniques of today. How did the old-fashioned effects enhance this particular movie?
Jerry Lewis has been described as a "clown." What are some of the traits that make a clown different from other comedic characters?
How do the women in this movie reflect the attitudes and perceptions of 1960? Talk about the changes for women since that time.
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