Directed by: Jody Hill / 2008
Though he’s not in it, Will Ferrell’s name is attached to this low-budget, harshly paced B-comedy on the ooohs and ouches of white trash Kung-Fu and love. Actually, I’m not quite sure what brand of martial arts is “demo’d” in this underwhelming movie other than lots of punching and kicking and yelling and cursing. From what I understand Ferrell claimed to have seen this movie a comedian’s dozen times and then won the distribution rights, hoping for a “Napoleon Dynamite”-like success (uh, not even CLOSE). But, it wasn’t Ferrell who attracted or hyped the movie for me, it was another comedic-random-wonder by the name of Danny McBride (who I think is better than Ferrell and could be just as huge). You may have been laughing at his goof-balling-gut-delivery the past year in the stupid-awesome chart topers “Hot Rod”, “Pineapple Express” and “Tropic Thunder”. I consider McBride on the heels of A(patow)-List talent and certainly the only reason to watch “The Fist Foot Way”. Well, scratch that idea and just watch McBride in the aforementioned movies or just wait for the next samey-so-so Will Ferrell buddy comedy because I’m sure that he’ll be substituting for John C. Reilly by the end of the year.
The best John Cusack moments find me relating with down-on-luck, pine-riding characters honing outsider traits and loner dips into the pools of bedroom pop-culture and creativity. “Martian Child” Cusack has him playing “David”, an older extension of classic characters who plays father to one that he probably could have once played. David is a successful stay-at-home science fiction book writer who decides to adopt a young boy named “Dennis”, as it was his late-wife’s long wish to do so. I find some relation to Cusack’s David, but it is little Dennis who fits more to my bill, as he opens up a world of artistic seclusion, inability to relate to others and most importantly, Lucky Charm loving that is quite inviting to me. Though Dennis might be a loner his bags are packed even deeper as he thinks, rather knows, he is visiting from Mars. He can’t seem to relate to anything or anyone, clumping life into an experiment of trying to come to terms with his abandonment. David is first taken with Dennis at the group home where he sits secluded and shielded from the sun’s harmful rays and the Earth’s harsh people in an over-sized cardboard box. He and his Amazon box have weathered many shuffles across the asphalt and wood chips, until David, seeing something of himself in the boy, coaxes him out with sun lotion and a soccer ball, not too unlike “E.T.” Soon enough, David has won Dennis over, amongst a wide-range of wrecked emotional ships and strange behavior as the two learn a little bit about life from one another and friends and family around them. Along the way Dennis is expelled from school for stealing (though, simply an extension of his documentation on human life and the deterioration of stuff), weighs himself down from gravitation pull with battery belts, reveals special Martian wishes and with 100% accuracy can nail the color of M&M’s by eating them blindfolded (except for the blue ones which have no taste). In the film Dennis is jokingly referred to as “Mini Warhol”, which is a fitting title and in fact his youthful lenses and knowledge on the world crank out more ideas and inspiration than the actual Warhol Factory. Childlike lenses are ones that we all need to watch the world from behind. Watching the DVD extras had me find that Dennis is actually inspired by true people and events, and related with pop-culture’s time line in every bit as universal as Andy Warhol. You see, the real story started when science fiction author David Gerrold (best known for the very popular and awesome original “Star Trek” episode “The Trouble With Tribbles”) decided to adopt a boy in the early '90s and the rest became pop-culture history by way of an award-winning short story and a lovely little movie. “Martian Child” as a movie isn’t perfect, but has heart, messages and inspiration that make up for that as they reach to the end of the galaxy and beyond. It's a movie for the whole family and you might just find an extension of your own self to reach out to.