[Screen It]


(1999) (Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Daniels) (PG)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Mild None Moderate None Mild
Smoking Tense Family
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Comedy: A TV producer tries to cope with the fact that the man posing as his uncle is in fact a Martian in disguise.
Tim O'Hara (JEFF DANIELS) is a TV field producer who's the brains behind his station's beautiful on-air reporter, Brace Channing (ELIZABETH HURLEY). When not feeding lines into her earpiece to complement her reporting, Tim must deal with her father (MICHAEL LERNER), who also happens to be his boss, as well as his feelings for Lizzie (DARYL HANNAH), their camera operator.

Things become more complicated when Tim spots a crashing UFO and then unknowingly gives a lift to a real-life Martian, who takes the guise of a human (CHRISTOPHER LLOYD), back to his house. Posing as Tim's Uncle Martin, the Martian not only discovers that he needs a specialized part to fix his spacecraft and return home, but also that humans are an interesting, if inferior species.

As Uncle Martin tries to fix his ship -- with the aide of Zoot, his fully alive and completely opinionated space suit -- he must not only deal with Tim and Brace who see his presence as the biggest news story ever, but also some covert government officials, including Coleye (WALLACE SHAWN) and Armitan (RAY WALSTON), who want to capture and examine him.

Although few kids are probably aware of the original TV series, Disney's mighty marketing muscle may be powerful/influential enough to draw some in.
For some crude humor, action-violence, sensuality, partial nudity and language.
  • CHRISTOPHER LLOYD plays the Martian who takes a human disguise and experiences what it's like to be human.
  • JEFF DANIELS plays a TV field producer who initially wants to expose the Martian, but eventually realizes that would be the wrong thing to do.
  • ELIZABETH HURLEY plays a flighty, but obnoxious reporter.
  • DARYL HANNAH plays a camera operator who has feelings for Tim.
  • WALLACE SHAWN plays an obnoxious federal agent who wants to capture and examine the Martian.


    OUR TAKE: 2.5 out of 10
    Whenever a film has a special effects-generated character who's more engaging than his real-life counterparts, and uses its best gag in the opening sequence -- in this case, a clever spoof of what the Sojourner Rover might have seen had it gone just a little farther beyond Barnacle Bill (the rock) on its Mars Mission -- and then doesn't go anywhere but down from there, you know it and the audience are headed for trouble.

    Such is the case with "My Favorite Martian," the big screen remake of the classic 1960's TV sitcom that starred Ray Walston and Bill Bixby. Much like Disney's other "mining" efforts -- such as the recent release of movies that rehash vintage films, TV shows or cartoons such as "Flubber" (from "The Absentminded Professor"), "That Darn Cat," "The Parent Trap" and "101 Dalmatians" to name a few -- this one doesn't capture the quaint charm of the original source material and consequently comes off as something that doesn't quite fully entertain the kids or their parents.

    While I never watched enough of the original TV show to make a comparative analysis between it and this big-screen adaption, the highlight for those old enough in the audience to remember the original was the occasional appearance by Ray Walston, the original Martian, and some briefly clever ties between that series and this film.

    Beyond that, however, this is some fluffy, lightweight stuff that thankfully passes by at a rather rapid clip. As such, at least it makes the film's lackluster and overall banal presentation slightly less irritating than it might have been.

    Of course, Martians and other space aliens have been on the minds of the public ever since Orson Welles pulled his fabulous "War of the Worlds" radio stunt, and after "My Favorite Martian's" initial TV run, other series, such as "Mork and Mindy" and the still running "3rd Rock From the Sun" have taken the "aliens among us plot" and used it for great comic effect.

    Unfortunately, this film is more interested in scatological humor (no further evidence need be presented of that than the sight of a large man's butt bearing down onto a toilet seat and several miniaturized characters) than the more refined, but still occasionally sophomoric observational material regarding the qualities and peculiarities of what it means to be human.

    Despite -- or perhaps because of -- "3rd Rock's" success at cleverly showing how aliens deal with the human bodies they inhabit, the filmmakers here -- including director Donald Petrie ("Grumpy Old Men") and screenwriters Sherri Stoner and Deanna Oliver ("Casper") -- decided to forgo that vast goldmine of material (and thus any chance of entertaining the adults) in favor of decidedly less intelligent and more mundane bits. As such and despite a few moments of touching on that observational matter, "Uncle Martin" all too readily and easily accepts most everything about being human.

    Instead, and much like the recent "Flubber" -- but without the presence of a Robin Williams type performer to carry the production -- this film seems more intent on showcasing its special effects than telling a fun or compelling story. While the "Zoot" spacesuit effect is rather good and provides for a few sparse jokes (as does a body falling apart sequence), some of the other effects look incredibly fake and superimposed onto the existing shots.

    The performances are okay for the sort of film this is trying to be -- meaning that no attempt is made at resembling real people, but that's okay on its own level -- and there are enough recognizable faces (including Jeff Daniels, Daryl Hannah and Ray Watson) present to keep things moderately interesting.

    As the new "Uncle Martin," Christopher Lloyd is okay, but kept reminding me of his "Doc Brown" character from the "Back to the Future" films, while model turned sometime actress Elizabeth Hurley ("Austin Powers") continues to prove that she has no problem with playing goofy characters.

    Missing that observational humor and plenty of other "alien" moments to spoof (including the film series of that name, the goofy "alien autopsy" shows on the FOX network, and even "Close Encounters" and "The X-Files" that are ever so briefly hinted at, but then quickly abandoned), the film may please some kids with its body (and body parts) humor, but it's doubtful it will be a big enough hit to warrant the sequel possibility with which it so strongly closes. We give "My Favorite Martian" a 2.5 out of 10.

    Here's a quick overview of the content found in this PG-rated film. Profanity is mild and certainly not overabundant, but a decent number of "colorful" phrases are also uttered throughout the film. Two scenes show brief and not entirely complete shots of men's bare butts, some sexually suggestive material is used for laughs (and may go over many younger kids' heads) and some cleavage/tightfitting outfits is also present.

    For most of the film the violence is of slapstick or incidental nature and is relatively benign, but later several instances of people being punched and otherwise hit, as well as being shot at by government officials occurs.

    That, and some moments that include images of the occasionally monstrous looking aliens may be unsettling for some kids, particularly if they're relatively young. Beyond that and some body- based humor (sounds and the sight of a man getting ready to sit on a toilet -- from the toilet's point of view) that occurs throughout the film, many of the other categories are rather void of major objectionable content.

    Even so, and considering the fine line of what age is appropriate for a PG-rated film such as this one, you may want to take a closer look at what's been listed to decide for yourself.

  • Although it's not alcoholic, Martin becomes intoxicated from ice cream and later has a "hangover" from consuming too much of it.
  • Likewise, Zoot drinks fabric softener from a martini glass, and when later scared, guzzles down the entire bottle.
  • Brace brings a bottle of wine over to Tim's house, and has some.
  • While most of what's listed isn't bloody or gory in the traditional sense, what follows is the standard bodily function stuff often found in movies aimed at kids.
  • The Martian spits some sort of goo onto Brace's discarded cigarette, and Coleye later tastes this goo.
  • Martin uses the fact that "astronauts pee in their spacesuits" to prove that Martians are more intelligent than Earthlings.
  • Zoot makes a farting sound after pulling down the butt flap of his space suit.
  • We hear exaggerated stomach gurgling sounds coming from Martin.
  • After Martin says that he's "falling apart," he literally does just that as we see his arms, legs and eventually his head become detached from his body (with no blood or gore, but the sight of detached body parts may be unsettling and/or gross to viewers despite all of it being played for laughs).
  • After having been shrunk and traveling through a sewer in their tiny car, Martin and Tim end up in a toilet. We then see a man starting to lower his pants and squatting to sit on the toilet. Before anything happens, however, they enlarge their car back to full size and bust through the toilet and the man's house. We then see the car covered in what looks like raw sewage.
  • We see a tiny bit of fleshy goo after Coleye has pulled one of Martin's antennae from his head during an examination.
  • Some may see Martin's behavior as having a little of both, but he's an alien who doesn't understand the ways of being human.
  • Brace has both as she's an obnoxious woman who runs to her father to fix whatever problems she has created for, or encountered herself. She also steals a videotape from Tim's house.
  • The government officials appear to have both for wanting to capture and examine Martin.
  • Depending on a child's age, level of maturity and tolerance for such material, the following may or may not be tense, scary or unsettling to them.
  • There's the possibility that the alien appearance of the Martian (before he takes human form) may be a tiny bit scary or unsettling for the youngest of kids (but it's not intentionally played to be that way). The same holds true for scenes where Tim's arms turn into alien arms/tentacles, or where another character turns into a large and rather menacing looking alien.
  • Some government men grab Brace, inject something into her neck, and essentially kidnap her.
  • There's a chase sequence where government officials chase after Martin and Tim in his car (and shoot at them with automatic weapons). Martin shrinks their car and they end up in a sewer that causes Coleye to send a plumbing "roto-rooter" into the sewer that "pursues" them through a small tunnel and nearly grinds them to bits with its sharp blades.
  • A fight sequence between Tim and Lizzie and two guards, that ends with a large alien (whose appearance may be scary to some kids) eating one of the guards (we see the man's feet disappearing into the creature's mouth), may be unsettling or suspenseful for some kids.
  • Moments where technicians try to revive Martin and he's then declared dead may be disturbing to some younger kids (but, of course, he's okay).
  • Machine guns/Handguns: Used by government agents to shoot at or threaten Martin and Tim (and Zoot) in several scenes.
  • Automatic detonation device: Located on Martin's spaceship and seen counting down to detonation, but it never happens.
  • Tranquilizer gun: Used to shoot Martin (we don't see the gun, but do see the dart in his back).
  • There's brief talk of a police shootout, but we don't see anything.
  • Phrases: "Old farts," "Idiot," "Moron," "Shut up," "Screw up," "Balls" (double meaning for golf balls and testicles), "Crazy monkeys," "Geez," "Dork," "Screw" (nonsexual)," "Jerk" and "Pinhead."
  • After Martin says that he's from Mars, Zoot makes a sarcastic remark, "What am I, from Uranus" (said to sound like "your anus"), and Tim tells Martin about a neighbor woman, "Go ahead, give her the finger" (referring to Martin's "magic-powered" finger).
  • Instead of kissing a woman's hand when she places it out for him, Martin repeatedly licks it.
  • Trying to get views of Martin (in his alien form) changing in a dressing room, Tim sticks his video camera underneath the door, but surprises a woman instead of Martin (but we don't see anything).
  • Martin drinks the liquid contents of a lava lamp and then belches, and an alien later belches after eating a guard. Although not human, Zoot drinks fabric softener.
  • None.
  • A moderate amount of action-oriented and suspenseful music occurs at times during the film.
  • None.
  • At least 4 hells, 2 damns, 1 incomplete "Son of a..." and 4 uses of "God," 2 of "Oh my God" and 1 use of "Good God" as exclamations.
  • When Martin asks "What's a Lizzie" (when Lizzie appears at the door), Zoot responds that he'd initially say it was a Model-T Ford, but that this one (the woman) probably has "better tires." As the talking suit says this, the impression of large breasts grow out from Zoot's suit (as if "he" had breasts).
  • With Zoot now off him, it's implied that Martin (as a human) is nude, and when he physically impersonates Tim, he's also nude and walks up and greets Lizzie who's shocked at that nudity. During this, we see a shot from behind him that shows most of his bare butt.
  • After Martin (in the physical form of Tim) kisses Lizzie (whom he's just met and doesn't know), he says, "If you're my sister, an explanation is in order."
  • As Martin tries on other clothes in a dressing room, Zoot (the suit Martin normally wears) comments that the moment he turns his back, "I find you getting into someone else's pants."
  • We see a woman in a small bikini that shows cleavage, and other women, including Brace, wear ultra tightfitting clothing that show their ample busts, varying amounts of cleavage, or both.
  • Zoot playfully wacks an unaware woman on the butt several times in a dressing room.
  • Brace seductively tells Coleye (about exposing the aliens), "We'll do it together."
  • Hoping to lure Tim back into being her field producer, Brace arrives at his house wearing a tightfitting, slinky dress that shows cleavage (and we see her adjusting that dress to better show that cleavage). When she starts to look around the house for some wine glasses he stops her at one point, mentioning that it's only his bedroom. She then seductively mentions that maybe she'll get a tour of it later.
  • As Lizzie bends over wearing a dress, we see a lot of cleavage.
  • After realizing that she's not an alien, but still having her strapped down on an examination table, Coleye says that he's going to give the fully clothed Brace "a quick examination" as he closes the door on everyone who's looking in.
  • We see the top part of a man's bare butt (from the toilet's -- and a miniaturized Martin and Tim's -- point of view) as he prepares to, and then does sit down on a toilet.
  • Martin tells (in a nonsexual context) a neighbor lady (who's attracted to him), "I've got something you need" to which she replies, "Don't tell me that unless you mean it."
  • Fearing for his "life," Zoot comments about still being "virgin wool" and then asks Lizzie to hold him about which he then comments, "This is nice."
  • Zoot enjoys looking through a Victoria's Secret catalogue, but we don't see any of the pictures.
  • Brace smokes several times.
  • None.
  • Whether Martians really exist, and more seriously, whether life ever existed on Mars.
  • What Martin means when he says that Tim is having "zipper problems" in a dressing room (we hear him yelling, but for another reason, although Martin is implying a certain part of Tim's anatomy is stuck in a zipper).
  • Most of the following is meant to be viewed in a comic fashion, although later moments get a bit rougher.
  • Martin throws a talking doll gadget through a window (that shatters).
  • Swinging his golf club at what appears to be something invisible carrying an object, Tim hits Martin on the head with his club.
  • Tim accidentally knocks over items in his home while trying to hit Zoot (the space suit) with that club. Martin then hits Tim over the head with a bottle to knock him out and protect Zoot.
  • There's some brief slapstick material with Martin causing Tim to fall from the ceiling (where he's "stuck" from Martin's levitating powers).
  • Zoot causes Martin's arm to swing backwards and smack Tim in the face.
  • A woman throws Tim's camera to the floor, smashing it.
  • Some government men grab Brace, inject something into her neck, and essentially kidnap her.
  • Lizzie throws a glass of wine at Tim (after thinking that he's seeing Brace). She then punches Tim.
  • As several vehicles crash into each other, government officials fire automatic weapons at Martin and Tim as they escape in their car.
  • Some armed guards aim their guns at Tim and Lizzie. One of them then tries to punch Zoot, but his fist simply stretches Zoot's material. A guard then shoots two shots through Zoot's material, somewhat "injuring" him. A guard then grabs Tim and smashes his head against an object and then slams him against a wall. As Lizzie tries to grab a gun, the other guard catches her and picks her up by her arm and throat. Tim then head-butts the first guard, and knocks the other one over the head with a fire extinguisher. Unfazed, that guard hits Tim and then while one guard holds Tim, the other repeatedly punches him.
  • An alien-looking creature throws one guard through a display panel, and then eats the other guard (we see his feet slipping down into the creature's throat).
  • A defibrillator is used to shock Coleye unconscious.
  • Coleye shows up and aims a machine gun at Martin, Tim and Lizzie.

  • Reviewed February 8, 1999 / Posted on February 12, 1999

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