Martian Child Menno Meyjes

Martian Child Menno Meyjes
Martian Child, based on the somewhat autobiographical novel of David Gerrold, is sort of a family-friendly K=Pax. It stars John Cusack as sci-fi writer David Gordon, who decides to adopt a child in the wake of his wife’s death.

The young boy who joins David’s family is Dennis, a social outcast who hides from the sun and claims he’s actually from Mars. The two seem well suited at first, with the writer being able to better understand the alien world of the child. Dennis is a handful though — emotionally distant with a penchant for stealing — in addition to his steadfast assertion of an extraterrestrial background. David, despite his best efforts, quickly becomes overwhelmed, especially as they’re living under the close scrutiny of Children’s Aid, who has to approve the adoption.

David’s inexperience at parenting and Dennis’s lack of social progress threaten to tear their family apart. You know how this movie goes — two misfits with tons of baggage find each other and learn how to love and trust again. It succeeds within this formula due to the likeability of the characters and the strength of the actors. Cusack does the usual charming babbling that he’s built a career on, only this time he’s trying to win the heart of a six-year-old instead of a leading lady. Bobby Coleman does a great job as the young Dennis, who’s trying desperately to make sense of human behaviour. Joan Cusack has a nice turn as (surprise) David’s sister, whose honest descriptions of the perils of parenthood are pretty hilarious.

There’s also a slightly awkward side plot involving a potential romance between David and his dead wife’s best friend (Amanda Peet), which is underdeveloped and doesn’t add a whole lot to the film. (Alliance Films)