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Tucson Weekly The Fat And The Skinny

Our Bargain-Basement Siskel And Ebert Take A Whack At 'My Favorite Martian.'

By James DiGiovanna and Zachary Woodruff

FEBRUARY 23, 1999:  THIS WEEK, FORMER Tucson Weekly film critic and Weekly Wire editor Zak Woodruff and current reviewer James DiGiovanna discuss the latest movie-based-on-a-TV-series, My Favorite Martian.

Zak: Oh boy, I get to go first. Well, the whole thing seemed very familiar: Christopher Lloyd plays an eccentric with access to advanced technology who shows up in a flying car and has to get back to where he came from in a set amount of time.

James: Back to the Future?

Zak: Duh.

James: That's very clever--I wish I'd thought of that.

Zak: Well, you'll say you did.

James: How come you're not the regular film reviewer any more?

Zak: Don't ask. Anyway, the whole movie is based on an Odd Couple scenario with Christopher Lloyd and Jeff Daniels in the Oscar and Felix roles.

James: Except that Christopher Lloyd comes down from Mars, attacks Jeff Daniels, Jeff Daniels retaliates with a golf club to the head, Christopher Lloyd slams Jeff Daniels into the ceiling, then suddenly they're best friends. There's no intervening scene to explain it: It's just a fight then they're buddies. It had the same internal cinematic logic as Showgirls.

Zak: But Showgirls was actually funny.

James: Did you know that Showgirls director Paul Verhoeven has a Ph.D. in math and physics?

Zak: Has anyone ever told you that you're a boob and a bore?

James: It's been mentioned. Okay. Anyway--My Favorite Martian is supposed to be a kid's movie, but it has all these really creepy, sexist scenes--Like, Christopher Lloyd, who's the Martian, has this living suit that leaps off his body, leaving him naked all the time. Then the suit goes and starts spanking some woman in a clothing store dressing room.

Zak: When I was a kid that was the sort of thing that would have turned me on, although I wouldn't have known I was turned on.

James: So it's like pornography for children?

Zak: Basically, but they won't know it for another 15 years.

James: So--there's two female characters, the good blonde (Daryl Hannah) and the evil brunette (Elizabeth Hurley).

Zak: Like in Archie comics--which, come to think of it, also turned me on as a kid.

James: --

Zak: Sorry.

James: But they're both really two dimensional--.

Zak: Unlike Archie comics.

James: And Jeff Daniels plays a guy who's in love with the brunette and whom the blonde is in love with.

Zak: Like Archie.

James: Yeah, it's that same dopey idea: the guy likes the girl who's mean to him.

Zak: And Christopher Lloyd's Martian is like Jughead.

James: Except the Christopher Lloyd character is always attacking women and sticking his tongue down their throats, and they, of course, just swoon and love it. It's a very enlightened film.

Zak: To prove it, there's an enlightened message at the end.

James: Yeah, for no reason, and without precedent, Christopher Lloyd's character says, "You humans are going to be okay if you just take care of your oceans." After a series of poop jokes, this seemed a bit odd.

Zak: What is it with the flood of movies with poop jokes lately? George of the Jungle, Dr. Dolittle, Nutty Professor, Flubber--I've blocked many of them out.

James: It seems to be a Disney thing. Anyway--while we're on the topic, what would be a good TV show to turn into a movie?

Zak: I bet Gilligan's Island is coming down the pike sometime soon. Probably with Julianne Moore as Ginger.

James: I'd like to see The McLaughlin Group: The Motion Picture. Or The McLaughlin Group: The Revenge of Pat Buchanan.

Zak: I wonder if we're as funny as we think we are.

James: I doubt it. Back to My Favorite Martian. It was notable in being a comedy with no laughs.

Zak: Was there anything you liked about the movie?

James: I kind of liked the fact that it was a continuation of the TV series, rather than just a film based on the series. The continuity of the series still held: Ray Walston, who played the Martian in the TV show, was in the movie, playing the same character, who'd been stuck on earth since the '60s.

Zak: It's kind of like if they'd had Adam West play Batman, with his saggy gut and all.

James: Yeah, that would have been touching. How about you? Did you like anything about it?

Zak: The fact that Jeff Daniels got to kiss Daryl Hannah. They make a nice little couple. A couple of blondes.

James: Yeah, blondes are cool.

Zak: Yeah.

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