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David (John Cusack) is a successful science fiction writer who is still struggling to recover from his wife's death. His married sister Liz (Joan Cusack) is against it, but David decides to adopt a child. Sophie (Sopie Okonedo) at the orphanage believes that she has found a perfect match for David in 10 year old Dennis (Bobby Coleman), who thinks he is from the planet Mars. David hopes that by encouraging and supporting the child, he will learn how to fit in. But that proves harder than he first thinks.

Review by Louise Keller:
John Cusack is the best and main reason to see this mediocre film about a self-confessed oddball and successful sci-fi writer David who adopts a misfit. The storyline is pretty silly and it is hard to take any of it seriously, yet Cusack makes much of the proceedings interesting at least, even if we don't believe the characters. Cusack's sister Joan is also good value as the extremely grounded Liz ('parenting is really hard... they're like mosquitoes sucking the life out of you'), with ideas about parenthood and family being as pragmatic as David's are not. 'A kid who sits in a box all day is a giant red flat,' she tells David in an effort to dissuade him from adopting. The central relationship between David and Dennis (Bobby Coleman), a pale little boy with stilted manner-of-speech, who believes he comes from Mars is the focus of most of the film, as the filmmakers do their best to manipulate us into caring about the outcome.

'Fantasy is my business,' David says. 'It can be a survival technique.' When we first meet Dennis, he is hiding inside a cardboard packing case whose letterbox slit allows him to view the world. David seems to be the only one who thinks of suggesting sun block and sunglasses to counter Dennis' aversion to the sun. Once out of the box, we learn that not only is Dennis reclusive, but he is also anti-social. He steals things and pours cola on his hot dog. But Cusack's David is also strange. There's a scene after Dennis has broken a household item in which David starts smashing plates on the floor to prove that material things don't matter ('It's just stuff,' he says). Then they start squirting tomato sauce. He doesn't mind buying a whole supermarket trolley full of Lucky Charm breakfast cereal either.

Also solid in their roles are Oliver Platt as David's eccentric agent and Amanda Peet is a pretty diversion as Harlee, who has no real reason for being in the film, except to imply the promise of a future romantic relationship with David. Martian Child makes for easy viewing, although with talent like John Cusack at the fore, we can only hope there are better roles for him around the corner.

DVD special features include deleted and alternate scenes, an audio commentary with the producers and writers, trailer plus two featurettes.

Published June 24, 2008

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(US, 2007)

CAST: John Cusack, Bobby Coleman, Amanda Peet, Sophie Okonedo, Joan Cusack, Oliver Platt

PRODUCER: Ed Elbert, David Kirschner, Corey Sienega

DIRECTOR: Menno Meyjes

SCRIPT: Seth Bass, Jonathan Tolins (novel by David Gerrold)


EDITOR: Bruce Green

MUSIC: Aaron Zigman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski

RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 21, 2007


SPECIAL FEATURES: deleted /alternate scenes; audio commentary with producers and writers; featurettes (2); trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: June 27, 2008

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