My Favorite Martian (film)
|My Favorite Martian|
|Directed by||Donald Petrie|
|Based on||My Favorite Martian created 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 American science-fiction comedy 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 in which Walston starred.
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News producer Tim O'Hara (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, Lizzie (Daryl Hannah), tries to comfort him, and she apparently has a crush on him. 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, but by the time he reaches the crash site, the ship has been shrunken to toy size. Nearby, its only occupant (Lloyd) hides in the bushes. Tim takes the now-shrunken spaceship home with him, and the Martian follows him to retrieve it. After a confrontation, Tim is knocked out and the Martian 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 that a small device called an "electron accelerator", which powers the control systems of the ship, is damaged beyond repair and the Martian needs Tim's help to find a replacement. The Martian takes the name "Uncle Martin" and explores the city with Tim, 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. Brace is captured by the SETI gang and is interrogated.
Tim secretly tapes Martin and his sentient suit, Zoot, with hidden cameras to back up his story and impress the TV station staff, but he eventually decides not to reveal the tapes, as he has become fond of Martin. Meanwhile, Martin and Zoot discover a subsystem of the ship called the Interstellar Safety System, which is prepared to self-destruct. Brace discovers the footage of Martin in his Martian form and she steals the tape. Lizzie shows up at Tim's house to discover Brace stealing the tape. Thinking that Tim cheated on her, Lizzie rejects him and storms out, only to be distracted by the now-full-sized spaceship, and is pulled into the cockpit by Zoot.
Martin and Tim go after the Martian evidence, shrinking the ship (along with Zoot and Lizzie) and racing down to the station, where Tim admits to Martin that he has been videotaping him, but says he likes Martin and apologizes. Accepting Tim's apology, Martin subdues Brace, then disguises himself as her so he can take her place on the news, and Martin's alien form is almost exposed during the broadcast, which is carefully watched by Elliot Coleye (Shawn), head of SETI. As footage from another news report is aired, Tim and Martin escape the station, pursued by SETI through the sewers in Tim's car, shrunken using Martin's device. They eventually end up in the hands of Coleye, who takes 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, Lizzie transforms into a hideous monster from "Veenox 7". She defeats them, then spits out the nerplex and turns back into a human.
The three eventually succeed in locating Martin, who has undergone surgery involving the removal of his antennae and presumably killing him. When Martin and Zoot reunite, he comes back to life and wakes up. They then escape SETI headquarters, and Tim and Lizzie prepare to bid farewell to Martin, installing a car alternator in place of the ship's damaged electron accelerator. However, they are interrupted by Coleye, who attempts to stop him from escaping, saying that he will stop at nothing to prove the existence of aliens, even if it means killing Martin. A SETI official named Armitan, revealed to be Martin's old friend Neenert (Walston), saves Martin by destroying Coleye's gun and tossing Coleye wildly in the air. After a 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 is turned into an alien. Laughing, Coleye accidentally swallows the gum. He ends up caught and tranquilized by his own organization, as Tim and Lizzie escape the scene.
In the end, Martin and Zoot decide to return to Earth and stay with Tim and Lizzie, while Neenert flies Martin's spacecraft back to Mars. Tim initially objects to Martin's staying, but Lizzie convinces Tim to change his mind.
Cast and characters
- Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Martin / The Martian is a hapless alien stranded on Earth who must work with Tim to find a way to escape SETI and return to Mars.
- Jeff Daniels as Tim O'Hara is a down-on-his luck news producer 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 is a serious reporter who will do anything to get ahead; she falsely seduces Tim and steals information about Martin's true identity.
- Daryl Hannah as Lizzie is Tim's innocent, good-natured camera operator who harbors a secret crush on Tim and is drawn into adventure once realizing Martin is from another world.
- Wallace Shawn as Dr. Elliott Coleye is a mischievous SETI scientist who will stop at nothing to capture Martin.
- Wayne Knight as Zoot is a lively synthetic suit with artificial intelligence that Martin wears. Knight appears uncredited in the film.
- Christine Ebersole as Mrs. Brown is Tim's nosy, overbearing landlady, who harbors a crush on Martin.
- Michael Lerner as Mr. Channing is Brace's father and head of the TV station where Tim works.
- Shelley Malil as Felix is an assistant at the TV station where Tim works.
- Ray Walston as Armitan / Neenert is a long ago-stranded Martian who has been masquerading as a government operative for years.
- Michael Bailey Smith as The Big Guard is a SETI guard who shoots Zoot and tries to arrest Tim.
It was directed by Donald Petrie and written by Sherri Stoner and Deanna Oliver, based on the television series created by John L. Greene. Creatures were created by Amalgamated Dynamics from designs by Jordu Schell. The film grossed $36.8 million domestically against a budget of $65 million.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 12% approval rating based on 42 reviews with an average rating of 3.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Loud, effects-ridden comedy with no real humor." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert gave it two stars out of four, remarking: "The movie is clever in its visuals, labored in its audios, and noisy enough to entertain kids up to 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 had grossed $36,850,101 domestically against its $65 million budget.