By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders.
First of all, it's not The Martian Child. It's just Martian Child. Whatever that's worth. It's not like there are several Martian children out there. There are, however, several movies just like Martian Child so maybe they knew they didn't deserve a The.
Martian Child Review
A widower (John Cusack) adopts a special needs boy who insists he is from Mars. He hides from the sun under a box and steals items to run Martian tests on them. It seems like more than the man can handle at first, but just maybe the child can teach him as much as he can teach his new son. Awww.
Cusack could do for parenting movies what he did for romantic comedies. This is a rocky start, but he shows that he speaks to children like he does grown-ups. That is to say, he's too smart for his audience, dropping references to stuff like the bird flu pandemic, although the uncorrupted minors seem to get him a little better.
Some scenes are really like a date movie. Waiting by the phone to hear back from the adoption agency might as well be waiting for a girl to call. Getting mistaken for a pedophile while watching the playground from the car is adorable in the same appropriate way that most rom-coms milk laughs.
The kid's eccentric antics are fine. They're not precociously annoying. He pours Pepsi on a hot dog, names M&M colors by taste alone and tries to mimic photos taken of his new daddy waking up suddenly at midnight. It's weird but not overtly cute.
You can totally see where it's all going. Dad starts warming up to the kid. Then he has to defuse some real tension in an outrageous, irresponsible way that's just oh so cute. Then the adoption guy acts like a total dick, as if he could place this weirdo in a better home or an orphanage is a better environment for him. Do they expect all adopting parents to cure their problem children within a month?
And since when are parents expected to cure their kids? Crazy is crazy. The best anyone can do is take care of someone and not make them worse.
It ends big because it needs some grand gesture. At one point the kid even explains his own neurosis. In the epilogue, even one note bit parts get emotional. That's the kind of movie Martian Child is. Everyone does fine in it. If you like movies like I Am Sam and Evelyn, here's another one.