Martian Child

Poorly adapted from David Gerrold's acclaimed autobiographical novel, this sappy comedy-drama about a widower who adopts a special-needs child makes a number of key changes and consequently misses the point of Gerrold's heart-tugging tale of single fatherhood and family. Not long after his wife’s death, successful sci-fi writer David Gordon (John Cusack)...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

Reviewed by Ken Fox
Rating:

Poorly adapted from David Gerrold's acclaimed autobiographical novel, this sappy comedy-drama about a widower who adopts a special-needs child makes a number of key changes and consequently misses the point of Gerrold's heart-tugging tale of single fatherhood and family.

Not long after his wife’s death, successful sci-fi writer David Gordon (John Cusack) decides to follow through on a plan they once made together and adopt a child. Against the strenuous objections of his sister (Cusack’s real-life sibling, Joan Cusack), who warns that parenting isn’t for the weak, John takes in Dennis (Bobby Coleman), a little boy who's been kicked around foster care for much of his life; he now lives in a group home and spends most of his daylight hours hiding inside a large Amazon.com box. Once David manages to coax Dennis out, he discovers the child has many other strange quirks: He’s afraid of the sun, he steals, he’ll only eat Lucky Charms and claims to be from Mars. David also begins to notice a number of strange phenomena associated with his new son: Dennis is apparently able to make stoplights change at will and, making a "Martian wish," he can alter the course of a baseball game. He can also guess the color of m&m's with startling accuracy simply by tasting them, and has an uncanny knowledge of astronomy. After several frustrating months of trying to teach Dennis how to act like an earthling, David begins to have his doubts about his suitably as a parent, and he can't help but wonder: Could Dennis really be from Mars?

Respected science fiction writer Gerrold is probably best known for penning the beloved "Trouble with Tribbles" episode of Star Trek, but went on to write such acclaimed novels as The Man Who Folded Himself and the Hugo Award-winning When HARLIE Was One, as well as the Star Wolf series. He's also been openly gay for much of his career, and while his sexuality is an important element in the autobiographical Martian Child, Hollywood apparently thought better of making a relevant movie about a gay dad and his adopted, special-needs son, opting instead for a dully routine drama that's about a deep as a Father's Day card (although the shift from gay man-to-grieving widower is nowhere as egregious as Mel Gibson's transformation from homosexual-to-hideously disfigured crash survivor in THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE). Cusack makes a half-hearted attempt to connect with Coleman, but chemistry is fatally absent and small wonder: Dennis is a unsettlingly strange creature who could well be from another planet: With his dark sunglasses, powdery pallor, raspy voice, ever-present umbrella and Polaroid camera strung around his neck, he's aptly described as a "little Andy Warhol" and is just as off-putting.

Coming Soon

Because it's never too early to plan Thursday night... two months from now.

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 2007
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: Poorly adapted from David Gerrold's acclaimed autobiographical novel, this sappy comedy-drama about a widower who adopts a special-needs child makes a number of key changes and consequently misses the point of Gerrold's heart-tugging tale of single fatherh… (more)

Show More »