My Favorite Martian (film)
|My Favorite Martian|
|Directed by||Donald Petrie|
|Produced by||Jerry Leider
|Written by||John L. Greene
|Music by||John Debney|
|Cinematography||Thomas E. Ackerman|
|Edited by||Malcolm Campbell|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
My Favorite Martian is a 1999 comic science fiction film starring Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Daniels, Daryl Hannah, Elizabeth Hurley, Wallace Shawn and Ray Walston, based on the 1960s television series of the same name. It was directed by Donald Petrie and written by original-series creator John L. Greene, Sherri Stoner and Deanna Oliver. Creatures were created by Amalgamated Dynamics from designs by Jordu Schell. The film, produced on a budget of $65 million, was a major box office flop after grossing $36 million domestically.
The film opens on Mars, showing the last moments of a Mars rover's mission. As the rover prepares to sample Martian rock, it "kicks the bucket." The mission controllers congratulate themselves on a "successful" mission, while back on Mars the scene pans up from the dead rover to show a huge undiscovered Martian city. A spaceship is seen quickly rocketing from the city and accelerating into space.
News producer Tim O'Hara (Jeff Daniels), is fired for unwillingly "compromising" his boss's daughter, reporter Brace Channing (Elizabeth Hurley), during a live broadcast of the first Space Shuttle launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base. His assistant, the shy Lizzie (Daryl Hannah), tries to comfort him, and it's apparent she has a secret crush on him. A while later, Tim witnesses a small Martian spacecraft crash landing. Realizing his chance to deliver a story that will "rock the Earth", he brings Brace to show her the ship. Nearby, its only occupant (Christopher Lloyd) hides in the bushes. Tim takes the now-shrunken spaceship home with him with the Martian following him to retrieve it. After Tim knocks the Martian out, the Martian's suit, named Zoot, comes alive and knocks Tim out; the Martian quickly comes to and disguises himself to look like Tim and ends up kissing Lizzie when she visits.
When Tim confronts the Martian the next morning, he finds out the "electron accelerator," a small device which powers the control systems of the ship, is damaged beyond repair and the Martian needs Tim's help to find a replacement. Eventually, the Martian takes the name "Uncle Martin" and explores the city, unaware that they are being watched by SETI, which discovered DNA left by Martin while hiding out at Tim's. While exploring Tim's neighborhood, Martin tells him about a friend of his named "Neenert," one of his planet's most gifted Martian scientists, who came to Earth in 1964 but never came back. Tim and Martin also stop by at a beach wear shop and Martin buys a new pair of clothes, leaving a jealous Zoot in the fitting room but then escapes out. Tim's other friends including Lizzie meet Martin without knowing that he really is a Martian yet; after this, Brace is captured by the SETI gang as she is mistaken by them as an alien.
As the story continues, Tim secretly tapes Martin and Zoot with hidden cameras to back up his story and impress the TV station staff, but he eventually decides not to, considering his friendship with Martin. Meanwhile, Martin and Zoot discover a subsystem called the Interstellar Safety System which is prepared to self-destruct, taking Martin's ship with it. The screenshot of Martin in the bathtub while in his Martian form is discovered by Brace and she steals Tim's tape. Lizzie shows up at Tim's house to discover Brace stealing the tape. After thinking that Tim cheated on her, Lizzie rejects him and storms out, only to be distracted by the now full size spaceship and is pulled into the cockpit by Zoot.
Martin and Tim go after the Martian evidence, shrinking the ship (unfortunately, along with Zoot and Lizzie) and racing down to the station where Martin ties Brace to her office chair and gags her with her scarves. Martin then disguises himself as her so he can take her place on the news (as Brace watches helplessly bound up and tightly gagged from her room) where Martin's alien form is almost exposed. The broadcast is carefully watched by Elliot Coleye (Wallace Shawn), head of SETI. Tim admits to Martin that he has been videotaping him, but found he also likes Martin and apologizes. As footage from another news report is aired, Tim and Martin escape the station (though not before Coleye decides to give the bound and gagged Brace an "examination" which causes her to do a muffled scream through her gag in objection). Tim and Martin escape through the sewers via shrinking/unshrinking device of Martin's and eventually into the hands of Coleye, who take them back to SETI for investigation.
At the lab, Tim tricks one of the scientists into growing Martin's ship to normal size, breaching security and allowing Lizzie and Zoot to escape. However, the trio's escape is blocked by two security guards, one of whom shoots Zoot. With the help of a "nerplex," a piece of alien gum that can transform anyone into another life form (in this case, a hideous monster from "Veenox 7"), given by Zoot to Lizzie, she tranforms and punishes the security guards by throwing the first one into a computer board. The second one tries to flee, unarmed and defenseless, but Lizzie chases him down and swallows him. She burps and then removes the gum, turning back into a human. She and Tim see Zoot shrinking away into his belt in pain from his bullet wounds.
The three eventually succeed in locating Martin, who underwent surgery, involving the removal of Martin's antenna and presumably killing him. When Martin and Zoot reunite, he comes back to life and wakes up. The three then escape SETI headquarters and prepare to bid farewell to Martin, installing a car alternator in place of the damaged electron accelerator. However, they are interrupted by the arriving Coleye, who attempts to stop him from escaping, saying that he spent a lifetime to prove that aliens exist and that he will not stop at anything to get it done, even if it means having Martin either dead or alive. Fortunately, a SETI official named Armitan, who happens to be Martin's old friend Neenert (Ray Walston), saves him by destroying Coleye's gun and tossing Coleye wildly in the air. After a nice reunion, Martin and Neenert fly back to Mars on their ship, much to Coleye's dismay.
Eventually, Coleye catches hold of the piece of nerplex left by Neenert. Believing that he can still prove his cause, Coleye chews on it, and he's turned into an alien too. While laughing at this, Coleye accidentally swallows the gum, which presumably leaves his transformation permanent, much to his shock. He ends up getting caught and tranquilized by his own organization as Tim and Lizzie escape the scene.
In the end, Martin and Zoot return to Earth with enough supplies to settle down with Tim and Lizzie. Neenert flies Martin's spacecraft back to Mars. Tim initially objects to Martin's staying, but a passionate kiss from Lizzie convinces Tim to change his mind. The film ends with Zoot soaking in a washing machine while enjoying a Victoria's Secret catalog.
- Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Martin/The Martian - A hapless alien who has become stranded on earth and must work with Tim to find a way to escape back to Mars.
- Jeff Daniels as Tim O'Hara - A down-on-his luck reporter who inadvertently becomes Martin's roommate and is soon drawn into danger when SETI becomes aware of Martin's presence.
- Elizabeth Hurley as Brace Channing - A no-goof reporter who'll do anything to get ahead, she falsely seduces Tim and steals information about Martin's true identity. She ends up going insane after Martin temporarily takes over her body.
- Daryl Hannah as Lizzie - Tim's innocent, good-natured camera operator who harbors a secret crush on Tim. She's along for the ride once realizing Martin is in fact from another world.
- Wallace Shawn as Dr. Elliott Coleye - A mischievous, xenophobic SETI scientist who'll stop at nothing to discover Martin's whereabouts. He ultimately swallows alien gum and accidentally gets trapped in that form forever and becomes the product of his own experiments.
- Wayne Knight (uncredited, but credited as Himself) as Zoot - A lively synthetic suit that Martin wears.
- Christine Ebersole as Mrs. Brown - Tim's nosy, overbearing landlady who harbors a crush on Martin.
- Michael Lerner as Mr. Channing - Brace's idiotic father, and head of the TV station Tim works for.
- Ray Walston as Armitan/Neenert - A long-ago-stranded martian who has been masquerading as a government operative for years. Ultimately returns to Mars at the end of the film.
- Michael Bailey Smith as the big guard - A SETI guard who shoots Zoot and tries to arrest Tim. He is defeated by Lizzie , who chews nerplex (alien gum) and becomes a large monster, enabling her to eat him whole in order to save Tim.
Critical reaction to the film was generally negative. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 12% of 41 critics have given the film a positive review, and it had an average score of 3.4/10, reaching a consensus of "Loud, effects-ridden comedy with no real humor." Roger Ebert gave it 2 stars out of 4, remarking: “The movie is clever in its visuals, labored in its audios, and noisy enough to entertain kids up a certain age. What age? Low double digits […] There are some good moments in My Favorite Martian. […] It looks as if everyone who made this film had a lot of fun.”
My Favorite Martian grossed $8,828,586 on its opening weekend. It had the widest release of 2,349 theaters. By the end of its run, the film has grossed $36,850,101 domestically according to its $65 million budget.
- Official website
- My Favorite Martian at the Internet Movie Database
- My Favorite Martian at Box Office Mojo
- My Favorite Martian at Rotten Tomatoes
- Movie stills