MY FAVORITE MARTIAN (1999)
My Favorite Martian is a terrible movie based on a pretty funny TV show. It was directed by Donald Petrie, who should probably be somewhat ashamed of himself. Let’s go.
Tim O’Hara (Jeff Daniels) is a down-on-his-luck newspaper reporter turned TV producer whose biggest concern appears to be flirting with his asshole coworker Bryce (Elizabeth Hurley), who also happens to be the daughter of his boss (Michael Lerner). On their way home from covering a shuttle launch, Tim and Bryce stumble upon a downed spacecraft, inhabited by a creepy little alien. The alien gets a cigarette flicked into its eye and spits up some mucus, but otherwise just shuffles around like a dick.
I have a hard time believing that this guy is anybody’s favorite anything.
Before Tim can make the discovery of a lifetime, however, the little alien shrinks his craft to the size of a toy, morphs into Christopher Lloyd, turns himself invisible, and sneaks into the back seat of Tim’s car.
I don’t know why he didn’t just take a Taxi. HAHAHAHAHA. Christopher Lloyd jokes.
Unfortunately, the spaceman’s powers of invisibility do not prevent Tim from hitting him on the head with a golf club, at which point a very strange thing happens: Christpher Lloyd’s cloths inexplicably peel off him, start dancing around like a fool, spew out a string of terrible jokes in Wayne Knight’s voice, and hit Jeff Daniels in the nuts.
It was at this point I realized that I had entered a true carnival of horrors.
Tim is out for the count, but someone is knocking at the door, so naturally the alien transforms into a nude copy of Tim, and greets the visitor (Daryl Hannah as Lizzie, one of Tim’s nondescript coworkers) with some awkward naked banter and a giant wet kiss.
It rivals Meet the Deedles‘ worm-smooch in creepiness.
Elsewhere, Ray Walston and Wallace Shawn are investigating the landing site, but they aren’t doing anything interesting yet, so we’ll just leave them to it.
My Dinner With the Actor Who Starred in the Original Show.
Meanwhile Tim and the alien decide to be friends for no clear reason, and the Martian gets nicknamed Uncle Martin, because that’s what happened in the old TV show. They go shopping for spaceship parts and clothes, and that creepy talking suit, whose name is Zoot apparently, gets jealous of/horny over various pieces of apparel. It’s a thing. Also, some special gum gives Tim squid arms.
He should take those arms on a Grand Tour. HAHAHAHAHA. Jeff Daniels jokes.
While Tim deals with boring work stuff, Martin eats some ice cream.
Also, Zoot pleasures himself in a washing machine.
Fuck more things.
Then Martin gets depressed and his head falls off.
Eventually, the movie realizes that it’s a movie again, and things start making a little sense. Anyhow, Lizzie and Zoot get trapped in the broken spaceship, shrunk, and sold to a yard sale.
Some pun about mermaids or something? HAHAHAHAHA. I’m bad at Daryl Hannah jokes.
Shenanigans happen. Tim and Martin shrink their car and have to escape from a Roto-Rooter. They drive into a toilet and get shat on. Fun.
Poop. Ha. I’m running out of steam.
Just as they’ve escaped the toilet, recovered the spaceship, and found all the missing parts, Wallace Shawn shows up and captures them. In an attempt to escape, Zoot gets shot. Lizzie gets mad and eats some of that special “turns you into an alien” gum. She then eats a security guard. She swallows him whole. He’s just doing his job, and she straight up murders and cannibalizes him with no apparent remorse.
I mean, he worked for SETI, how much of an asshole could he have been?
The movie just ignores that it’s turned one of its characters into a heartless psychopath, and our heroes escape. But just as Martin is about to blast off, Wallace Shawn and Ray Walston show up to stop them. But it turns out that Ray Walston is actually a Martian (’cause he was the Martian in the original show, get it?) so Martin and Walston team up to torture Wallace Shawn.
I’m not sure what they’re doing to him, but it looks terrible.
Anyhow, Martin, Zoot, and Ray Walston fly away to Mars, and Wallace Shawn eats a piece of that wonky gum, turning him into a freaky alien. Oh, no! Looks like he’s going to be imprisoned and cut apart by the government now! Oops!
It kind of looks like he’s Shawshank Redemption-ing here, but he’s not.
And just when you thought it was over and Tim O’Hara has settled down at home with Lizzie the cannibal, Martin shows back up. He’s moving in! Because apparently the horror never ends, and the nightmare must continue forever.
The movie has concluded, but its memory will always haunt you.
My Favorite Martian‘s treatment of sexual matters is so overwhelmingly unpleasant that I can only assume whoever was responsible for its creative development must have had an intense aversion to all things erotic.
Goodbye, every boner.
Each romantic act depicted is palpably unpleasant to watch. Don’t believe me? Well that’s okay. I don’t really have a punchline or any good supporting evidence. I don’t know, maybe that’s fun to somebody. I know this film isn’t supposed to be alluring, but I’m not even finding it funny. I’m just put off. In lieu of anything further, here’s Uncle Martin gallantly kissing his nosy next door neighbor (Christine Ebersole) on the hand:
WHY DON’T PEOPLE LIKE IT?:
While the film goes to great lengths to faithfully recreate certain minor elements of the TV show (holy shit, O’Hara’s porch is perfect!), all of the fun is gone. The premise may be nominally the same, and everyone involved seems to be giving it their all, but there’s just too much extra bizarre bullshit muddling everything.
Case in point.
Oh, and Zoot is the worst. If I wanted to see some CGI abomination doing sexual things, I’d watch stuff from this YouTuber. Zoot just galavants around the screen making clothing puns and referencing pop culture in ways that make no sense for a garment that has spent its entire life on Mars. But whatever. Fuck it. Have some Zoot-boobs.
MOST REGRETTABLE MOMENT:
My Favorite Martian doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo on consent. There’s unsolicited exposing of genitals, forcible kissing, rampant hand-licking, upskirt video-filming, vindictive ass-slapping, and other terrible favorites. But scene that really takes the cake is when Wallace Shawn’s character gleefully declares that he’s going to give a struggling, bound-and-gagged Elizabeth Hurley an “examination” for the sake of science. I know I shouldn’t expect too too much of Disney at this stage of the game, but I really thought they would have stopped a little short of implying that the guy from The Princess Bride was about to sexually assault someone.
Who’d have thought he’d play a character more off-putting than Grand Nagus Zek?
I found My Favorite Martian to be incredibly troubling, but I wouldn’t actively discourage anyone from watching it. It’s a terror, to be sure, but I feel like it may warrant occasional attention, if only so that the world does not forget that it exists. At the same time, fuck this movie. I’m conflicted. Make up your own damn mind. Or don’t.
Inspector Gadget (1999)