The Cusack Chronicles: Martian Child (2007)
What happens when you adopt a child who thinks that he is a martian? That is exactly the premise behind this film. So many aspects of this film could have easily led it down a very cliched and emotionally shallow path, but Menno Meyjes, the director of Max, another Cusack vehicle, is able to keep the messages of the film from being overly simplistic, which these types of family films often fall into. They take shortcuts in finding solutions for conflicts between the kids and the parents. However, even though it does fall into this at times, the overall point of the film has a much deeper, introspective meaning. The emotional and psychological effects of child abandonment and abuse present themselves in relatively realistic ways in the film. David (Cusack) is a widower who is just figuring out life without his beloved wife and decides to adopt a child, because it had always been a wish of his wife’s. The creative side of the film is that it does seem, at times, that Dennis may in fact be what he says, though the viewer already knows the inevitable conclusion.
John Cusack does a great job as a single father who finds a portion of his heart that needs to be expended to this adopted child, but, knowingly, does not have it all together. He is often figuring out how to survive in the same world. It is the interaction between John Cusack and Bobby Coleman (who also was in Must Love Dogs) that makes the film. There is a natural ease in how they act together. I think the strongest point of the film is the very pro-adoption stance that the film takes. At one point, David states, “I don’t want to bring another kid into this world. But how do you argue against loving one that’s already here?” That line alone expresses a very Christian theme that we often overlook in this world. Yes, it is good to have your own children, but there are tons of children out there that don’t have families, people who love them, role models, etc. Whether they can be found in America or overseas, there is a need there and to not, at least, weigh that option of giving love to those who are orphaned, abused, abandoned, or so forth is, in fact, selfish on our parts. The movie provides something challenging to people to open their hearts to children who are already living that are in need of love and a home. This is ultimately the message that makes this movie a solid effort by all involved in it.