Gerrold's 'Martian Child' Arrives on the Big Screen

By Michelle
October 30, 2007 - 7:20 PM

Star Trek screenwriter and novelist David Gerrold's The Martian Child, a Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novella, opens nationally in the US as a feature film this weekend, though the movie's script makes significant changes from the original story.

Gerrold's autobiographical tale is about a gay science fiction writer who adopts a child who believes he is a Martian. In the film, the main character, David Gordon - played by John Cusack - is a widower still grieving for his wife several years after her death. The actor's sister Joan Cusack plays his character's sister in the film, while Bobby Coleman plays young adoptee Bobby Coleman and Amanda Peet plays his best friend. A cast list at IMDb reveals that the film reunites Cusack and his co-star from The Grifters, Anjelica Huston, who plays Gordon's editor.

The Hollywood Reporter's Sheri Linden (via Reuters) said that "the very notion of a story about a widower struggling to bond with a hard-to-place foster child might set the schmaltz-averse running," but she called Cusack and Coleman's performances "terrific...their unpredictable interactions infuse the proceedings with an immediacy that helps sell the overly pointed lessons of the script."

Linden noted that the screenwriters have made the gay father "a widowed straight man - screenplay shorthand for noble, selfless good guy." She credited Cusack's performance with making the character likable as "a grown-up misfit.

David Germain of the Associated Press Washington Daily Globe) was more critical, saying, "Martian Child can squeeze out Hollywood sniffles, the gooey sort that'll be gone and forgotten by the time you reach the theater parking lot...Martian Child is sentimental hogwash." He too appreciated the performers: "The fact that they don't completely overstay their welcome amid the maudlin action says a lot for the restraint they bring to the characters."

"Adapted by screenwriters Seth E. Bass and Jonathan Tolins, Martian Child is based on the book by David Gerrold, best known for the Star Trek episode "The Trouble With Tribbles," write Germain. "Tribbles were little fluff balls that cooed their way into the hearts of the starship Enterprise crew, only to breed so prodigiously they overwhelmed the vessel. The excess continues with Martian Child, which overwhelms with a different kind of fluff."

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