Volume 92, Issue 80
Thursday, February 18, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Space flick for beings of all sizes
Photo by Joyce Rudolph
By Jared Gutstadt
My Favorite Martian, Hollywood's latest attempt at adapting a television show to the big screen, is a surprisingly funny and well written film. Veteran screen stars Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber) and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future) have teamed up to create one of the finest pieces of family entertainment since Babe.
My Favorite Martian is centered around Tim O'Hara (Daniels), a struggling reporter trying to break a big story to boost his career. His big break comes when he befriends a wacky companion (Lloyd) from the planet Mars.
Film lovers may be a bit hesitant before seeing My Favorite Martian, partly due to the quality associated with family films in the last few years. Recently, a plethora of Hollywood flops have been responsible for the decline of the family film. Passed off as entertainment for the whole family, these films did not give much thought to plot or character development.
Classic tales like Goonies and Back to the Future had memorable characters, cool plots and amazing special effects, not to mention booby traps and a time machine. My Favorite Martian is reminiscent of days past as it has everything from special effects to a funny and easy-to-follow plot.
A stellar supporting cast decorates this film, including Daryl Hannah and Elizabeth Hurley. Hurley plays the antagonist in the film, a ditzy news reporter who will do anything to get a scoop, while Hannah's character is the polar opposite. Both characters add stability to the off-beat story. The film also features veteran Ray Walston, who starred in the original series.
The most surprising aspect of this film is its successful transfer from television to the big screen. My Favorite Martian is directed by Donald Petrie, known for his work in television and film. Petrie borrows many codes and conventions from films which are considered to be family classics. He uses interesting plots, sight gags and good character development to hold the attention of both parent and child throughout the film.
The film is also layered with state of the art computer effects, resulting in animation which propels the narrative while not cluttering the film. One of the main characters is an animated space suit a testament to the creativity of the animators.
Too many times, directors use animation in a film without giving much thought as to how it will affect the final product. In this case, the final product is a classic story about friendship and is presented admirably. Both O'Hara and the Martian learn a lot about themselves throughout the course of this film.
A story with a purpose is an important aspect for family films and people will no doubt walk away from this one with something different. The main message for children, which should be heeded by adults as well, is appearances aren't everything.
A good film has to be more than a gimmick or an idea. The equation for a funny family film is not the Olsen twins plus a talking gorrilla. Director Donald Petrie definitely did not take the easy way out with this film, as My Favourite Martian may have single handedly saved the family picture.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999