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Review: The Martian Child

The Martian Child
11.02.2007
5 10

Plot: David (John Cusack), a recently widowed science fiction writer, adopts a precocious six year old. The child, Dennis (Bobby Coleman), is convinced he's a Martian. Hi jinx ensue. The film is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by David Gerrold, himself a well known sci-fi writer.

Review: I had fairly low expectations for THE MARTIAN CHILD. I like John Cusack as much as anyone- but he's been in a streak of bad films lately. He previously teamed with director Menno Meyjes on the young Hitler drama MAX- a film that I did not particularly enjoy. Also, THE MARTIAN CHILD was supposedly shot over two years ago, and usually when a film stays on the shelf for two years it's a pretty bad sign. Also the IMDB states that director Jerry Zucker was brought on board to re shoot part of the film- yet another bad sign.

That said, I did not hate THE MARTIAN CHILD as much as I expected to- and I was mildly entertained by the film. John Cusack gives a solid performance as usual (even in his bad movies- Cusack is usually pretty good), and young Coleman acquits himself nicely, even if he is wee bit too precocious at times.

The big problem with the film is the way they handle the whole idea of the kid thinking he's from Mars. They try to be ambiguous, dropping hints that, yes, the kid might actually be a Martian- a la K-PAX. Then, about halfway into the film, they pretty much drop this idea- which unfortunately was the only thing holding my attention as a viewer. I pretty much completely lost interest in the last half hour of the film.

For me, the highlight of the film is the supporting cast- which is made up almost exclusively of people who've acted with Cusack before. As always, Joan Cusack is on board as (what else?) David's concerned sister who thinks he's in way over his head with the whole adoption idea. One of my favorite character actors, Oliver Platt- who appeared with Cusack in THE ICE STORM, is on board as David's cynical agent, while Cusacks' co-star from THE GRIFTERS, Angelica Huston, makes a welcome appearance as David's bitchy publisher. Amanda Peet from 2003's Identity plays the marginal love interest.

All in all, THE MARTIAN CHILD is not a particularly bad film- but it's not exactly a good one either. Its light, inoffensive, sickly sweet nature will probably appeal to families. All others should probably wait for Cusack's next vehicle- GRACE IS GONE, which supposedly covers similar material, but in a much more interesting, realistic way.

My Rating: 5/10

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Source: JoBlo.com

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