Out of the sky it came, like a spaceship itself. I remember the ads for it. I remembering thinking it had a great cast and great potential in this time of lousy Disney films. And then it landed on earth in the form of a movie. "My Favorite Martian". I waited till it came out on video, rented it, and watched it. And then it was over.
I wasn't exactly disappointed, but I was a bit let down. It has a lot of talent, a lot of material, and an okay outcome. It took some heat upon its release, but it really wasn't that bad. It was a bit less than I expected, but it was still entertaining.
It stars Jeff Daniels (''Dumb and Dumber''), as a TV producer named Tim O'Hara. One day he views a space ship come out of the atmosphere and watches it crash in front of him. As he investigates, a martian appears. The martian (Christopher "Doc Brown" Lloyd) assumes the name Uncle Martin (get it, "Martin," "Martian"?). Tim takes Uncle Martin and his space suit, named Zoot, (which/who becomes a character itself/himself/herself) back to his home. But what Tim doesn't know is that Uncle Martin and Zoot are capable of instant shape-shifting, and depending on what color of extraterrestrial gumball they're chewing, Martin (and the humans) can turn into a variety of monsters. This film could seriously boost the sales of chewing gum to young children, preferably young boys between the ages of 6-12. But back on subject now...
Along with this tale (loosely based on the 1960s television show by the same name) is a sappy love story. Tim is in love with a reporter named Brace (Elizabeth Hurley). The romance is put on hold at separate times during the film, and so we never truly get a handle on the whole bit. Tim is in love with Brace one moment, Lizzie (Daryl Hannah), his technician, the next moment. Call it romance. Call it love. Call it manipulating the audience.
The villains are all government scientists, led by Coleye (as in "e. coli"), a government-something-or-other who is seemingly mystified and obsesses with martians. Coleye is played by Wallace Shawn, whose film credits include "The Princess Bride" and "Toy Story." I've always admired him on-screen because he is a small screen presence, yet at the same time a strong one. He rarely plays a leading man, and in the rare ocassion he does, the film is a flop (see a film of his where his kid rents a new father). Wallace Shawn is one of the most underrated yet distinguished co-stars out there, and he demands just as much credit as the other actors on board, since he does very well with his character, who chases Tim and ''Uncle Martin'' because he wants to prove there is intelligent life on other planets. Uncle Martin, on the other hand, only wants to lay low, be friends with Tim and Lizzie, repair his spaceship and go home. Then he discovers ice cream, and all he wants to do is eat ice cream. (The side effects of ice cream are like alcohol to our bodies; Uncle Martin runs around and wrecks the ice cream shop, completely intoxicated. Must be the sugar-rush in the vanilla and chocolate.) In fact, the scene where Martin wrecks the ice cream shop was shown many times on the TV spots and trailers, and it made the film look more promising than the outcome.
There are some good moments in ''My Favorite Martian,'' including the ice cream shop segment. It looks as if everyone who made this film had a lot of fun. Christopher Lloyd and Jeff Daniels are cheery and happy the whole way through, which may be a good enough reason to see this film. But as I watch it, I can't help but compare it to other family films I've seen that are so many times more compelling, interesting and smart than "My Favorite Martian." But if you are looking for pure entertainment...you've found it.
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