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My Favorite Martian

A film directed by Donald Petrie
Produced by Robert Shaprio and Jerry Leider
Written by: Sherri Stoner & Deanna Oliver
Starring Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Daniels, Daryl Hannah and Elizabeth Hurley, with Wallace Shawn and special guest Ray Walston. Zoot's voice by Wayne Knight
January, 1999

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Here we are, with most of the Third World on the verge of economic collapse and a sexual predator in the White House, and we're making movies like this. What are we thinking?

I, for one, am heartily sick and tired of these TV shows made into movies. What's next, ALF? Well, I might like that one, if they used the original puppeteers… I happen to know and like Bob and Lisa, and they'd be great. I never watched ALF, though, but that never harmed the friendship.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. TV shows made into movies.

The only thing that saves this dumb-ass movie is the spacesuit, Zoot. It's a cute idea, interactive clothing, though there seems to be no reason for it from the Martian's point of view. It seems clear to me that the film's producers saw what they had, realized it sucked and said to themselves, "Jesus Christ, this is terrible! What can we do to save it?" So they cooked up the idea of having a space suit with an attitude. This doesn't save the movie, but it does add some pizzazz.

Otherwise, what? Some cool creature effects, I suppose. The Martians look kind of neat, and there is a gorgeous Martian city early in the movie that, sadly, we never see again. The role is certainly far beneath Christopher Lloyd's talent. He mugs and postures his way through the film. There are a few good laughs, but I'm damned if I can remember, a week later, what they were.

One thing that does stay with me is pretty disturbing. At one point Jeff Daniel's girlfriend, played by Daryl Hannah, takes a Martian pill and turns into a horrendous space monster in order to fend off two big goons who are beating the crap out of Daniels.

She knocks one of them out, and eats the other one! Man! I couldn't believe it! Just swallows the poor sod whole! And that's it - she never says thing one about it when she turns human again, which she does almost immediately - how the hell did she process two hundred pounds of protein so fast? Why didn't she burst? Why didn't she - or Daniels - show the least shred of revulsion? Why'd she have to eat the guy anyway? She could have thrown him against a wall or even ripped his head off.

The movie overall is poorly written. I don't know how Stoner and Oliver got away with this dog of a script, but they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

The only cool thing about the movie was Ray Walston. The guy is an old pro. He plays a clever role as the original TV Martian, Uncle Martin, now working for SETI. By the way, SETI are made out to be real opportunistic bastards in this movie, cardboard bad guys, which I found extremely offensive. And Wallace Shawn, who ought to know better, plays a nerdy power-mad scientist. A total waste of celluloid.

Dumb film. When is Hollywood going to learn that a lot of yelling and running around and creature FX don't make up for the lack of a good story?

Buy the novelization.


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