Martian Child

also known as “Mein Kind vom Mars”
MPA Rating: PG-Rating (MPA) for thematic elements and mild language.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Constantine

Moral Rating: Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Adults
Genre: Sci-Fi
Length: 1 hr. 48 min.
Year of Release: 2007
USA Release: November 2, 2007 (wide—2,000 theaters)
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Relevant Issues
Featuring John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Bobby Coleman, Amanda Peet, Sophie Okonedo, Oliver Platt, Richard Schiff, David Kaye, Suzy Joachim
Director Menno Meyjes
Producer Seth Bass, Mike Drake, Ed Elbert, Toby Emmerich, David Gerrold, Mark Kaufman, David Kirschner, Matt Moore, Luke Ryan, Corey Sienega, Jonathan Tolins
Distributor: New Line Cinema. Trademark logo.
New Line Cinema
, division of Warner Bros. Pictures

Based on a novel of the same title by David Gerrold

“The story of a man becoming a father… and a boy becoming a son.”

I loved “Martian Child.” Why? Because I came out of the theater with a deep sense of how much our Abba Father loves us.

“Martian Child” is not a perfect movie, but it does what it sets out to do: tell a beautiful story about what unconditional love really looks like.

In the beginning, we meet David Gordon (John Cusack), a misfit child who escapes into a fantasy world and emerges as an adult who has become a successful science fiction writer.

We immediately feel for David, as we learn he considers himself “The Creature” of his novels, and he is a widower of two years. All of this we learn in the first five minutes of intro, after which we arrive at the first plot point: David is contemplating adopting a child. It is a way of honoring his wife’s memory, as they had made such plans before she died, and it is a way to continue on with living, but thankfully David is not selfish enough to convince himself that these are good enough reasons by themselves. Someone else’s entire future cannot be taken that lightly.

He debates with the social worker: Can he really do this? It’s crazy, and there’s no guarantee that it’ll work out the way he thinks it will. In the end David is willing to take the risk.

It made me wonder if our Heavenly Father had such a conversation with himself before creating us: yes, it’s risky, but the potential pay-off makes it worth it.

When we first meet Dennis (the amazing Bobby Coleman), he spends his day inside of a box marked “Handle with Care.” It is the perfect metaphor for a boy whose internalization of the hurt he has experienced produces odd behavior stemming from his belief that he is from Mars. A man who writes science fiction seems like a perfect match for a boy who believes he IS science fiction.

The movie toys with us as Dennis shows uncanny abilities. Is he a child of untapped genius or is he maybe… just maybe a Martian Child after all? Is his ability to “taste” colors extrasensory, or an indication that he can calculate probability with lightning fast (but still human) accuracy?

There are a few things that I should caution viewers about: David takes the Lord’s name in vain 6 times, and the word “hell” is used once as a curse word. The most offensive moment comes when a child overhears David take the Lord’s name in vain and says something a long the lines of “Jesus is cool, but other religions have much to offer as well.” It’s meant to be a look-how-cute-kids-are when-they-are-being-grown-up moment, but it left a bad taste in my mouth that the writers would use a child to utter this denial of Jesus.

Besides that, there is David’s friend Harlee who has a Buddha statue in her yard, refers to Dennis as an “old soul,” and uses words like “zen.” There is a moment when David and Harlee are tempted to have a “sleepover” but decide to be responsible and only kiss briefly before she leaves.

Also objectionable is David’s sister Liz (Joan Cusack) who refers to her children as the “Omen 1 and 2.” God says children are a blessing.

I wouldn’t recommend this movie for young children, because they will be bored by all of the grown up issues explored in this movie.

As spiritual orphans, when we become adopted by our Heavenly Father, sometimes it takes a while to believe that we are really loved unconditionally. We are all Dennis in some way. Can we dare to hope that Someone really wants us in spite of our imperfections? Is it possible that this love is never-ending, despite how we mess up? I encourage the reader to take that journey with Dennis and discover the Truth.

Violence: None / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—Very good heartwarming movie. Nothing objectable or offensive. Great story about how love can change someone. Highly recommend it!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4
Debbie, age 33
Positive—This is the most heartwarming movie I have seen in ages. The acting is superb, especially the young, charming Bobby Coleman. Might be a little slow for the younger kids but this is definitely a family-friendly movie. No cuss words that I remember and no objectionable sexual content (There is only one kiss). Overall, a fantastic movie!!!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4½
Stephanie, age 20
Positive—This movie is well done. One important message is to “never, ever, ever, EVER” give up on someone, no matter how difficult or unlovable they may be. John Cusack did a wonderful job of portraying an adoptive father trying to create a loving and safe home for a troubled young boy, Dennis, who had been abandoned by his parents. Another running theme in the movie is to be yourself, no matter how “odd” you may appear to your peers. John Cusack allowed Dennis to believe he was from Mars in order for him to cope with the loss of his parents. While he does try to bring Dennis around to dealing with reality, John questions why we must all try to fit into the norm just to be liked and accepted. God gave each of us unique talents and ways to express ourselves that need to be celebrated, not hidden just to fit in. This movie, while not specifically bringing up God, makes the point to be who you are. Overall, this is a very heart-warming movie worth seeing.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
Lynn, age 44
Positive—My husband and I enjoyed this movie on our date night. We were both touched by this movie. I liked how this movie promoted adoption of an older child who was characterized as “hard to place.” All too often the older children who are seeking homes are “left out” because people want to adopt infants and toddlers. My husband and I adoped 2 children from the foster care system, so it was easy for us to identify with the father as well as the child. (Although, our children did not think they were from Mars, they have their own coping techiques like Dennis in the movie).

This movie is touching. I admire the father for not giving up on the child when things get difficult. (At first he did not want to adopt him, he later changed his mind as he got to know the child.) He found a way to love him and reach him. When all of the other adults and teachers wanted to give up on a hurting little boy.

I did find a few things that caused a red flag in my mind. The first is when the man went to the group home to get to know the “boy in the box” a little girl met him. He said “Jesus” (took God’s name in vain) and the little girl said something to the effect of “Jesus may be a valid way for you, but there are other equal and valid paths as well.”

The boy steals and while I know that to be true of my own children, the father dissmisses it and even goes along with the boy’s stealing until later in the movie.

I think that young children may not understand this movie. It is family-friendly, but for older children/teens and adults.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
Amy W., age 32
Positive—There were only five us in the theater. Too bad. This movie has so much too offer. The analogy of how God takes us as we are is quite present. Cusack’s character reassures Coleman’s emotionally wounded child character he will not leave him-not ever, ever, ever. There is much going for this movie: realistic dialogue, quirky characters mixed with everyday ones, and difficult situations that are with us everyday. Cusack plays his role well. And Coleman is amazing. Yes, Cusack takes the Lord’s name in vain; I don’t like it, even if it is part of his character.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
pd webb, age 50+
Positive—I went to see this movie with me mum mainly because of the adorable Bobby Coleman, but the whole movie was worthwhile and such a touching story about a new dad and child just trying to find a home, I loved it!
My Ratings: Good / 5
Noelle Tyler, age 19
Positive—Very good movie that really makes you think of how your actions can positively or negatively influence others. I agree with the other reviews—good demonstration of unconditional love which is the way Jesus loves us. I recommend this movie, but not for young children.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Mike B, age 43
Positive—This was a surprisingly good movie. John Cusack was really funny. I’d recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Sam, age 11