It’s cool if you’re 7 and love gadgets: a shrinking spaceship, a magic belt and a living Polymorphic Zootinix 3000 spacesuit named Zoot, described by director Donald Petrie (Mystic Pizza, Grumpy Old Men) as "a cross between Roger Rabbit and the magic carpet in Aladdin."
It’s cool if you’re an Estée Lauder aficionado and lust after Elizabeth Hurley (Brace Channing) who fusses about the set in very tight and posh little frocks delivering adorably empty lines with her adorable British accent.
It’s cool if you’re a fan of the 1963 television series and you’re curious to see what this ’99 remake looks like, although you know that the state-of-the-art special effects – the computer graphics, the puppetry work, the animatronics – will probably lessen the comedy.
Even if you belong to none of these categories – the gadget lovers, the Hurley groupies or the retro fans – there’s still hope. You may have a weakness for Jeff Daniels (Tim O’Hara), Christopher Lloyd (the Martian) and Daryl Hannah (Lizzie), or you may recognize Ray Walston – who played the Martian on the TV show – and get misty.
But enough chatter! On with the story: Ambitious reporter Tim O’Hara believes he has stumbled upon the story of the millennium when a real-life Martian crash-lands on Earth before his eyes. Naturally, the Martian – who takes human form and calls himself Uncle Martin – prefers to wander about incognito. As Tim becomes Martin’s pal he decides to kiss his Pulitzer story good-bye and help Martin repair his ship.
Meanwhile, sundry love stories expire in the background as Tim – oblivious to Lizzie’s crush on him – chases after adorable Brace. Everybody seems to have a lot of fun – except for you if you’re older than 7 – especially Zoot, which takes a few dips in the washer and spends its time leafing through Victoria’s Secret catalogs. At this point, you wonder whether you could sneak out – past the kid on your left who laughs out loud every 25 minutes or so – and pop in next door where they’re showing In Dreams which, you’ve heard, has cool water imagery.
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