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 in which Walston starred. It was directed by Donald Petrie and written by Sherri Stoner, Deanna Oliver and creator of the original series John L. Greene. 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 a Martian rock, the rover loses power and becomes inoperable. The scene pans up from the dead rover to show a huge, undiscovered Martian city just beyond the rock the rover was about to sample. A spaceship is seen quickly rocketing from the city and accelerating into space.
On Earth, 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 is apparent she 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. 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. 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 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 as she is mistaken by them as an alien.
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 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-size 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 Martin ties Brace to her office chair and gags her with her scarves. Martin then disguises himself as Brace 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 (Wallace Shawn), head of SETI. Tim admits to Martin that he has been videotaping him, but says he likes Martin and apologizes. 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 via Martin's device. They eventually end up in 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, Lizzie transforms a hideous monster from "Veenox 7" and defeats the guards. She turns back into a human and she and Tim see Zoot shrinking away into his belt, in pain from his bullet wounds.
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 (Ray 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, which presumably leaves his transformation permanent. 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.
- Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Martin/The Martian - 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 - 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 serious reporter who will 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 and is drawn into adventure once realizing Martin is from another world.
- Wallace Shawn as Dr. Elliott Coleye - A mischievous SETI scientist who will stop at nothing to capture Martin.
- 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 father and head of the TV station where Tim works.
- Ray Walston as Armitan/Neenert - A long-ago-stranded martian who has been masquerading as a government operative for years.
- Michael Bailey Smith as the big guard - A SETI guard who shoots Zoot and tries to arrest 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 had grossed $36,850,101 domestically, far less than 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