Martian Child - My Favourite Feelgood Movie
Martian Child - a movie about parenthood, the courage to be yourself, and unconditional love.
In the title, I say this is my favourite feelgood movie. Actually, I think it might just be my all-time favourite movie. I reach for it whenever I want to watch something really heartwarming, touching and true - and I have lost count of the number of times I've watched it!
My initial reason for buying the movie was simple enough - I love John Cusack's work and try to get around to seeing most of his movies. This was one of those films that hadn't received much press (at least not here in the UK) and I didn't know whether to expect anything great. But I have to say this must be one of the most underrated films out there.
It tells the story of David, a widowed sci-fi writer with a dog who decides to honor his dead wife's wishes and adopt a child. He is paired with a boy, Dennis, who doesn't fit in at all, and who insists he is from Mars. The story that unfolds is that of the bonding between man and boy, allowing them both to heal and find themselves again. But can they bond enough to convince the adoption agency that Dennis should stay with David, and to keep Dennis from running away back to "Mars"?
The acting in this movie is second to none. John Cusack is utterly convincing as the tenderhearted, nervous and unsure new father, and if there weren't already countless women out there wanting to marry him, this would probably convince them! Even more impressive is the acting from young Bobby Coleman, who plays Dennis. He creates an oddity of a boy who is utterly compelling and loveable, as well as hugely fragile. Add to this superb blend the talents of John's sister, Joan Cusack, who plays his sister (and gets the best lines as always!), Oliver Platt as David's stressed out agent, Amanda Peet as David's comforting friend and a star turn from Angelica Huston as the stern publisher, and you have a wonderful network of relationships going on within the film, that make it so very convincing.
There are plenty of both heartwarming and amusing moments, as Dennis explores the world in order to "report back to Mars" and David tries his best to guide the boy towards a more down to earth life, but the film also plunges deeper and brings up some thought provoking moments, too. It questions why we feel the need to follow the crowd and fit in, rather than stand out and be ourselves. Why is it that "different" is perceived to be "odd" or "wrong"?
As a kid who never really fitted in at school, it's not hard for this movie to touch a nerve with me. But it is the moment near the end of the film, when Angelica Huston says scathingly to John Cusack, "Why can't you just be what we want you to be?" and he realises just how Dennis has been feeling all this time, that is the true heart breaker. Much of the world is guilty of doing this. Often we are even guilty of it ourselves, wanting others to be what they are not to fit our own needs and insecurities. In truth, we are all unique, all special, and should be encouraged to celebrate that, not suppress it. This film has much to teach, along with a lot of love to share!
In summary, this is a touching and very enjoyable family movie that you will watch over and over. Let Dennis into your home and he will, most definitely, find his way into your heart.
Photo GalleryClick thumbnail to view full-size
A brief note about the photos above... this is a family movie and certainly suitable for children. My daughter was around 18 months when these photos were taken - I had watched the film one day and while not old enough to watch it with me, she had taken in little bits of it and taken quite a shine to John Cusack, as you can see!
We later watched it together when she was around 3 (she's now almost 4), and she loved it. Aside from the fact it has a gorgeous dog in it, which went down very well (although be warned, there is a sad part!), she was absolutely besotted with the baseball scene, where David tries to teach Dennis to play. He tells him to yell "Hot coffee!" when he finally hits the ball, and my little girl walked around shouting this for days, and is still badgering me to this day to teach her how to play baseball!
So, if you want to enjoy this movie too, here are some other things you might like... just like us!
If you love the movie then you'll love the original novel upon which the film was based, too. I recently read it and loved it to bits.
Can't wait for the DVD to arrive? The film is available as an instant download for rental or purchase.
If you enjoyed watching John Cusack's portrayal of a father, then you'll also love Grace is Gone, where he is the suddenly widowed father of two girls, who has to find a way to tell them their mother has been killed serving in Iraq.
Preview Martian Child
Enjoy the Martian Child trailer, watch one of the best scenes from the movie, and enjoy my personal favourite moment, the wonderful dance between father and son!