Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Martian Child Review

For as sappy and painfully manipulative as this thing is, the cast sure does try to make it work. Anchored by an, as always, very strong John Cusack performance it makes the whole thing bearable. I'm not sure there are many actors other than Cusack that could have made this role playable. Joan Cusack, ironically playing John's sister in the film, bring a bit of wit and feist to the otherwise very tame and sterile surroundings. Amanda Peet, though she seems to visibly cringe before delivering a couple of particularly awful lines, also seems to really be trying. Aside from than the horrid script, by-the-numbers plot and mediocre direction, one problem in particular stands out: Bobby Coleman. I feel bad taking shots at a child actor but nothing about Coleman's performance worked for me. First of all his character is strangely coated in make-up (at least I hope it's make up) that give him an unbelievably pasty complexion and offputting dark circles around his eyes. His entire look is visually unpleasant. The character itself is unsympathetic, his thieving tendencies and over-weird behavior go too far in the quirky direction to work. Lastly he delivers nearly every line in a disconserting and wooden monotone that shows very little actual acting ability. Now, of course, some of the problems with his performance are the result of the screenplay and the overarching (flawed) concept, but I wonder if a better child actor could have made these scenes more tolerable. Cusack's performance almost makes this worth seeing...if you can tolerate merciless sap for two hours.

Overall Score: 4/10

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