Visit to a Small Planet Movie Poster Image

Visit to a Small Planet

(i)

 

Jerry Lewis alien comedy has lots of mild sexual innuendo.
  • Review Date: June 24, 2012
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1960
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A visitor from outer space, eager for adventure and curious about the larger universe, learns that there's really "no place like home" and that he's better off keeping his "nose out of other people's planets." He must also comically confront the pain of love, the pain of jealousy, and "the pain of pain."

Positive role models

The alien-hero is honest and sincere, but childlike and trouble-prone. Male human adults are gullible, single-minded, and vain. A very ditzy mother flutters around, totally oblivious to unfolding events. Set in 1960 -- no people of color, no independent or working women.

Violence

Cartoon-style action in a number of scenes: an exaggerated fist fight; someone is hit over the head with a vase; a gun goes off; a person is head-butted by a goat; tear gas is fired; a character lands upside down in a barrel of water.

Sex

Lots of kissing and sexual innuendo -- off-handed comments about chastity, overeager males ogling and trying to seduce innocent women. "Tangling" and "pitching woo" are used often as a pointed euphemisms for making love. The alien visitor asks questions like: "How do you multiply?" and "May I watch?" A scene takes place at Lover's Lane.

Language

Some put-downs and name-calling: "stupid," "boob."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Repeated funny cigarette commercials. People consume alcohol in several scenes. Kreton drinks bourbon and has an immediate bizarre reaction (walking on the ceiling). A scene is set in a beatnik club: The Hungry Brain is filled with smoke and all the patrons seem to be very high on something -- glassy-eyed, trancelike, but no mind altering drugs are seen or mentioned.

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.

Kids say

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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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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.

Movie details

DVD release date:February 4, 1960
Cast:Earl Holliman, Jerry Lewis, Joan Blackman
Director:Norman Taurog
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Space and aliens
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Visit to a Small Planet was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Educator and Parent of an infant and 1 year old Written byMommaOfTwoo November 20, 2012

Spacey.

While funny, there are many sexual references. Young children will not understand them (but that doesn't mean they should see this). Ht for what's it's worth they don't make comedies like this anymore :)
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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