Martian Child: A Movie Review

Martian Child: A Movie Review

Martian Child: A Movie Review.

IMBD score 6.7

For those seeking to become foster parents for the first time, some complicated feelings can come up. Finding someone or something that helps express the emotions that come with the process can be challenging.

Children in foster care and adoption long to be loved and cared for by family members. However, being placed with a foster family or adoptive parents can be a blind side for them. Foster kids often feel like unwanted imposters or aliens, unsure how to fit into an already-established life.

But what if one movie could help bridge those gaps while providing an entertaining story to enthrall the whole family? The gap director Menno Meyjes's 2007 film Martian Child attempts to fill in the limited pantheon of movies about foster care.

A Brief Synopsis

The Martian Child is adapted from David Gerrold's 1994 book of the same name. The film is set in the United States and centers around a science-fiction author named David Gordon. Gordon is played by actor John Cusack of Say Anything and Being John Malkovich fame.

Gordon and his wife wished to adopt a child, but she passed away before they could. Now, Gordon keeps her dream alive by adopting a young boy named Dennis (played by Bobby Coleman).

The trouble is, Dennis is insistent he's an alien from Mars. He spends his time hanging upside-down and hiding in a box to escape the sun's harsh rays. He even documents human behavior through photographs to take back to Mars.

Now, Gordon must help gain Dennis's trust with help from his snarky sister (Joan Cusack) and an old friend of his wife's (Amanda Peet). Conversely, Gordon must deal with the added headaches of balancing visits from Social Services and the increasing demands of his literary agency.

Positives of Martian Child

One of the main positives of the film stems from the cast. John and Joan Cusack are well-cast in their respective roles. Coleman dodges the trap of stiff child acting while still coming across as detached when needed. 

Despite a clunky script, the emotions and message of the film still rings true. Meyjes frames Dennis's belief of being an alien compared to the alienation foster children feel, and it's moving to watch Gordon try to break down Dennis's walls.

Credit to the writers for not giving a definitive answer to the Martian question in the film. In the hands of a lesser filmmaker, there would be a third-act twist that Dennis either was or wasn't a Martian. This would cheapen the emotional payoff at the end.

Instead, the ending gets to be where the film shines, punctuated by Aaron Zigman's touching score.

Negatives of Martian Child

While most of the cast is a highlight, the same doesn't apply to the antagonists. Richard Schiff gets squandered as the requisite "Social Services agent who only shows up so a dramatic misunderstanding can happen" character. He's seemingly forbidden from bringing any of the passion he brought to Toby Ziegler on The West Wing. 

Amanda Peet's character feels inconsequential, little more than the love interest designed to back a studio-mandated B plot. On a technical level, the film stays average, opting for a basic rhythm of "shot/reverse-shot" over any bold cinematographic choices that could enhance the story.

Foster Care Movies for Everyone

Hopefully, this review of Martian Child gave you a strong indication of whether this entry in the pantheon of foster care movies interests you.

But what if you are interested in becoming a foster care parent like Gordon? If that's the case, feel free to contact us and let us help you start one of the most important journeys of your life. 


Enjoy the trailer of Martian child here.


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