Martian Child tells the touching story of a man who adopts a young boy and the struggles they encounter as they forge a new relationship as father and son.
David Gordon (John Cusack) is a successful science-fiction writer who is reeling from the death of his wife a few years earlier. David and his late wife had applied to adopt a child. When a child is offered to David, he makes the difficult decision to progress with the adoption process on his own.
Dennis (Bobby Coleman) is a young boy struggling with his own trauma of being abandoned by his parents. He arrives at David’s home with an array of eccentric and unusual coping behaviours. He also claims that he is a visitor from Mars who will soon be going home.
David realises quickly that he has a lot to learn in his new role as a parent of a very troubled little boy. He relies heavily on the advice and support of his friend (Amanda Peet), sister (Joan Cusack) and manager (Oliver Platt) to get him through. At times, David wonders whether he is fit for the challenge of fatherhood. He even begins to question whether Dennis’s Martian claims might actually hold some truth.
Parental abandonment of a child; death and grief; adoption
There is no physical person-to-person violence in this movie. There is one scene where David and Dennis smash plates and other valuables throughout the house. Also, David loses his temper with Dennis during one scene but regains control quickly.
Content that may disturb children
During one scene, the much-loved family dog dies of natural causes in Dennis’s bedroom. The dead dog is shown. Dennis and David are both seen to be visibly distressed.
Some children in this age group could be upset by the theme of loss, which is a major component of this movie. For example, the movie:
- features Dennis’s abandonment by his parents, which results in him being adopted by David
- refers to the death of David’s wife
- focuses on the emotional responses that arise from the losses that the two main characters have experienced. At times, this could be distressing for children and require parental guidance to help them to understand what they are seeing.
Some children in this age group could also be disturbed or distressed by some of the scenes and themes described above. These scenes could require parental discussion.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Several scenes throughout the movie show adults drinking beer. Alcohol is consumed in moderation and shown in social settings such as at a barbeque, a dinner party and at home.
Nudity and sexual activity
There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including a brief and awkward kiss between two consenting adults.
The following products are displayed or used in this movie: Nike, Lucky Charms, Amazon.com, Cheerios, M&M’s, Mars Bar, Pepsi, Heinekin, Crayola and SAAB.
This movie contains some mild coarse language and put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Martian Child tells the story of a man’s determination to reach out to a little boy who has shut himself off from the world. Together these two characters rediscover the ability to love and trust after loss.
You might like to discuss the values in this movie, including:
- family values of love, support, trust and honesty
- determination and perserverance.
You could also talk about certain real-life issues such as:
- teasing people who are different
- looking beyond the superficial
- the impact of loss on individuals
- alienation and ways of coping with it
- differences between children and adults and how these can be resolved.