My Favorite Martian
Rating -

Comedy (US); 1999; Rated PG; 94 Minutes

Jeff Daniels: Tim O'Hara
Christopher Lloyd: Uncle Martin
Elizabeth Hurley: Brace Channing
Daryl Hannah: Lizzie

Produced by Barry Bernardi, Jerry Leider, Robert Shapird and Marc Toberoff; Directed by Donald Petrie; Screenwritten by Sherri Stoner and Deanna Oliver

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Written by DAVID KEYES

"My Favorite Martian" takes a talented person like Christopher Lloyd and puts him into the role of one of the most pathetic and unforgiving characters to ever grace the screen. It has to be the most annoying personality in history; ten minutes after meeting this "Martian," I wanted him crushed on the highway by a moving bus. And that was just the television show.

You could just imagine the movie. I hesitated at first from seeing it, but remembering the responsibility of film criticism, and the necessity of an open mind, I ventured into the dark halls of the theater, staggering towards the doorway of the screening room. The audience from a previous showing was just emerging, and the look on their faces was anything but pleasing. It looked like they had just seen the Hindenburg disaster. Considering that most of the audience was children, that was a look no one should expect to see.

As it turns out, the look on their faces meant everything, and more. That infamously bad TV show from the 60s not only transforms to the screen worse than ever, but also more ridiculous than ever. Have you ever noticed how movie adaptations of television shows never seem to lost the basic, single-thought plot? It's the story that supports a few minutes of air time, but for some reason, the filmmakers expect it to carry out the length of your average movie. A new improved story for these films is a logical answer, and could open up the doors and limitations of the whole concept. But noooo; here we go again, with another bird-brained story, cut together like numerous television show plots. It is an insult to the desire of seeing amusing comedy.

Oh, but anyone with half a brain to realize something like that obviously had no connection with the making of "My Favorite Martian." Not so long ago, "Meet The Deedles" came to the screen, another live-action Disney film. It was clearly one of the worst of 1998, as were "Mr. Magoo," "Flubber" and "Jungle 2 Jungle" to 1997. Here is a similarly stupid illogical movie, without motivation, reason, effort, ambition, success, or a hint of recovery for a studio as recessed as this one. It's a one-joke script, made entirely upon the foundation of half-baked ideas and thoughts, pulled together by the stringy substances that the filmmakers like to call brains. Take one look at the main character, in any one frame of the movie, and your at instant annoyance with the project. The fact that a great man like Christopher Lloyd is that aggrivating character gives me even more reason to detest it.

The character makes Jack Frost look inspired. He's a Martian that looks like a human being, thanks to the gum-ball-like pills he ingests, which ultimately keep him in human form. When his ship crashes nearby the house of a pathetic journalist named Tim (Jeff Daniels), he pretends to be 'Uncle Martin,' so that, while rebuilding his ship, no humans around him (except Tim) will know that he's actually an alien.

Thus, the weak plot splits into numerous little catty-wompus subplots that merely suggest an opportunity to waste time on screen. The list of them includes one involving the discovery of Martin's background by a news reporter, one discussing a relationship between Tim and a woman he admires (Daryl Hannah), and, of course, one involving Martin's numerous capabilities, including a gross tongue split into sections at the tip and a living costume that looks like it should belong in "Lost In Space." The special effects start promising (the opening scene involving a skyline on Mars is a dazzling spectacle), but after awhile, they progress into a series of intolerable scenes that assault the senses in every way they know how. One of the stupidest plot situations/special effects scenes involves a car chase with police, in which Martin shrinks the vehicle into the size of a purse so that they could get away quickly. The shots taking place from within the car, where the views through windows show feet scattering towards them, are stupid and ugly to stare at, and often quite obviously put together.

The movie was directed unfaithfully by Donald Petrie, whose past credits include two very funny films, "Richie Rich" and "Grumpy Old Men." "Richie Rich" was, too, a remake, but at least in that case scenario, the director had a little fun with the concept. Scott Renshaw, one of the best film critics of our time, recently printed his review of "My Favorite Martian" that included an opening paragraph with numerous references in Disney live-action movies: the references of getting your genitalia caught in the zipper, of losing your virginity, and of speaking about breasts, balls and butts, just to name a few. Ponder for a moment about those observations, and try to picture what recent live-action Disney movie they belong to. You could find obvious places for all of them. Now ask yourself if you want your entire family to sit down and see these things together. Is that family entertainment?

Consider this a fair warning.

1999, David Keyes, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
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