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Martian Child

Get out your hankies
By ROB NELSON  |  October 31, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars

VIDEO: Watch the trailer for Martian Child.

John Cusack has held up well for a man in his third decade of Hollywood hustling. Nevertheless, between the forthcoming war-at-home weepie Grace Is Gone and this vastly superior tale of a widowed sci-fi novelist who dares to adopt a “freaky little dude,” the former Lloyd Dobler appears determined to play every wobbly note of the early middle-age blues. Get out your hankies: even if Cusack’s grieving single dad can learn to handle the title toddler (Culkin-esque Bobby Coleman), a pale urchin who insists he’s been sent from the Red Planet, will social services (in the form of stern-faced Richard Schiff) allow these kindred fantasists to stay together? Directed by Spielberg protégé Menno Meyjes, Martian Child is contrived, but it works — only the use of Cat Stevens’s “Don’t Be Shy” feels like undue button pushing. Earnest and insightful, the movie explores familiar parental dilemmas as well as the particular challenge of communicating unconditional love to an orphan.
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