It's off in many directions -- false in its details, false in its relationships, false in its emotions -- but probably the first and worst thing that needs to be said about it is that it's also overlong and dull.
In December, Cusack will be back on screen in Grace Is Gone, another portrait of a grieving widower struggling to raise children. Viewers may want to hold out to see him in a film that maintains its sensitivity all the way through.
Menno Meyjes handles this Nick Hornby-esque story like a special Oprah episode. Throw in some muted magical realism, and you've got everything you need for a fine performance undercut by banal storytelling.
Cusack and Coleman are on screen together most of the movie, and 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.
Martian Child was directed by Menno Meyjes, who wrote the screenplay for The Color Purple, and written by the distinguished team Jonathan Tolins and Seth Bass. How could so many good people go so wrong?
Those who stick with Martian Child won't entirely avoid mush, but they will find terrific performances by John Cusack, as the parental unit, and 10-year-old Bobby Coleman, as the self-proclaimed extraterrestrial.