Movie Review By Heather Clisby
I agreed to go see "My Favorite Martian" while intoxicated so you can imagine my enthusiasm when the time came. I'm old enough to be a fan of the television series, which originally aired from 1963-1966 before it went into syndication. In Hollywood's endless affection for what worked yesterday, the idea of Uncle Martin the Martian (played by Ray Walston) living with Tim O'Hara the Reporter (played by the late Bill Bixby) is put into action once again.
This time, likable Jeff Daniels is the ambitious journalist who can't seem to get a break. While he works his butt off to impress the boss, he lusts after the boss's daughter, a spoiled, selfish anchorwoman named Brace, played by Elizabeth Hurley, who really has a good time with this silly role. Darryl Hannah is Lizzie, the nice girl behind the scenes who has more trouble getting noticed by Tim.
Christopher Lloyd is Uncle Martin, the lost alien who adopts human form just to get along in his temporary home. Lloyd is wildly energetic and the perfect choice to portray the hysterical out-of-towner fascinated by face smushing, ice cream and sleeping for longer than 30 seconds.
If you are Earthling-sensitive, try not to be too offended by the humor. To illustrate a point about humans using only 10% of their brains as opposed to Martians using the full 100%, Martin observes wryly, "You people think e-mail is amazing and your astronauts still pee in their spacesuits."
Which brings us to Zoot, Martin's living, talking, disco-looking, Motown-loving, all-purpose outfit with opinions all his own. Yes, he is the impressive baby of several computer animators but with a heavy Brooklyn accent spewing lame jokes, he quickly becomes more like a beautiful woman with rotted teeth and bad breath - exciting to look at but, geez, shut up already.
The best joke in this film occurs early on when we see NASA's remote controlled Pathfinder primitively zeroing in on a Martian rock while just beyond it, a huge Martian metropolis buzzes. The Earthling scientists are giddy over pictures of dirt, meanwhile, unbeknownst to them, an advanced alien Gotham exists yards away.
Respectfully, Ray Walston, the original Uncle Martin, is cast as Armitan, a mysterious Martian hunter. He's a gentle reminder of the simple black-and-white series that was more about male bonding and other scary unknowns than special effects. Bottom line: A loving remake of an old favorite; lots of eye candy and even some sexual tension for the kids. Everyone has a good time and no one gets hurt but I'd wait for video.
© 1999 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 2/17/99
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