The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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‘Martian Child’ roots through former student’s experiences

Dramatic and comical, “Martian Child,” takes the trophy for attempting to swell-up the audience’s eyes with tears, and provoking a sense of sympathy for David (John Cusack), a widowed science fiction writer longing to form a family of his own.

Directed by Menno Meyjes, Time Warner’s New Line Cinema, filmed the movie based on a novel by science fiction writer David Gerrold, a former CSUN student that studied theater arts in the mid 60s. The novel, “The Martian Child,” is a fusion of imagination and autobiography about Gerrold’s own experience adopting an at-risk child.

But that’s where the similarities end. In the film, David adopts a child named Dennis (Bobby Coleman), a troubled and disturbed 8-year-old that has come to believe he is on a mission from Mars to document the life of humans. This leads the child to become anti-social, steal things from “humans” to better fulfill his mission, and be an all-around nuisance.

Cusack is the perfect match for the quirky character he plays, and the chemistry between Cusack and Coleman is crucial in engaging the audience with the feelings of frustration exchanged between the two.

The plot of the film takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster as David strives to achieve the ideal family, all the while trying to prove himself as capable to social services, and to bring Dennis back to reality and show him he is loved and there is no need to live in the fictional world he creates.

In an interview, Gerrold said he was satisfied with the way the film portrays his initial doubts about adopting a troubled child (although in real life his son was not as weird as the character Dennis).

When asked if the film portrays factual events of his life Gerrold said, “You always have to make adjustments,” adding that the directors kept the “soul” of the events, though they used them in a different way in the film. He was just happy that they “stayed true to the theme of the book.”

“A book is a different experience than a movie,” Gerrold said, “you can go on at length and explain ‘this is what I was feeling,’ it’s thoughtful.”

In movies it’s different, it’s about the action,” he added.

Initially Gerrold said he was approached by several companies but declined most offers to turn it into a film, until he got connected with David Kirschner, a producer with a long list of big name films.

Gerrold has also spent his time writing many memorable episodes of “Star Trek” since graduating CSUN.

“Martian Child,” is not a tear-jerker, although it tries to be, nor are there award-winning dramatic performances. It’s more like a feel good film to watch with your mom on an early Sunday morning.

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