Martian Child

"Weak"

Martian Child Review


Who's your daddy? John Cusack, from the looks of things.

In films released this year, the actor has played a divorced dad mourning his daughter's death in a haunted hotel room (1408) and a single father of two whose wife is killed while serving in Iraq (Grace Is Gone). Either Cusack is gravitating toward these roles because they quench a sudden paternal yearning or Hollywood casting agents collectively have decided he's finally the right age to play a parent.

The trend continues with Martian Child, Menno Meyjes' fatally schmaltzy family drama about a widowed science-fiction writer named David (Cusack) whose desire to do something "meaningful" with his empty life leads him to the front door of a neighborhood foster home. There he finds shy Dennis (Bobby Coleman), a socially challenged child sequestered in a cardboard box who tells concerned adults he's visiting our planet from Mars.

How will these not-quite-men pull themselves out from their respective shells? Without spoiling any details, I can assure you a sappy soundtrack of motivational pop will lace the director's warmed-to-mediocrity bonding moments. Dennis, we're told, only eats Lucky Charms. Cut to Cusack and Coleman filling a grocery cart to the brim with cereal boxes. But that's not enough. Meyjes must follow them to the cashier so they can tell the skeptical clerk, "We're Lucky Charms guys." Goose the audience's seats and pray for needed laughter.

The inexplicable happenstances just keep coming. Dennis can taste colors (this talent is tested using product-placed M&Ms). He can converse with David's dying dog. While attending a baseball game, David wonders aloud if the batter can manage a home run when, lo and behold, the crack of the bat sends the ball to the left field bleachers. Dennis sheepishly inquires, "Do you want the team to win the game, as well?" Dennis finally explains to David that he can grant a limited amount of "Martian wishes." You can probably guess what mine would have been.

Recognizable actors shrug off superfluous roles. Amanda Peet and Joan Cusack alternate scenes as Cusack's love interest and sister, respectively. A streamlined script could have assigned the sum total of their lines to one role. Oliver Platt overacts as David's flustered literary agent. Richard Schiff plays the clichéd social worker, the one who checks on David and Dennis at the most inopportune times.

Eventually, Meyjes' low-key cast eventually gives up on the material. Young Coleman sulks to Cusack's level, rasping his quiet lines with a damaged voice. Couple that delivery with Coleman's pale skin and oversized sunglasses, and the poor child looks like the illegitimate son of Willy Wonka and Andy Warhol.

Martian does raise a few interesting questions before retreating to the safest path. What if people who fit in are the odd ones out? And at what point in a child's life is imagination considered a bad thing? Instead of exploring these issues, screenwriters Seth Bass and Jonathan Tolins neuter their creative premise to deliver the fairly predictable cornball fluff we anticipate when off-center loners find a middle ground. For a movie about a potential alien kid, Martian is pretty down to earth.

Maybe Jupiter, even.



Martian Child

Facts and Figures

Run time: 106 mins

In Theaters: Friday 2nd November 2007

Box Office USA: $7.5M

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Production compaines: New Line Cinema

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Fresh: 35 Rotten: 72

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Mike Drake, Mark S. Kaufman, David Gerrold

Starring: as David, as Dennis, as Harlee, as Liz, as Jeff, as Lefkowitz, as Sophie, as Mimi

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.