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The management of Entertainment Drive would like to thank Tim Burton for not destroying New York City in his film Mars Attacks! Please refer to the Cranky Critic's review of Independence Day to understand our reluctance to once again engage in the unpleasant task of gluing Schwartz together again. On to Cranky's take on Mars Attacks!
Let it be recorded that First Contact, despite what Trekkers may claim, actually occurred at 6:57 p.m. on May 9, near the small town of Lockjaw, Kentucky. The natives thought it was a barbecue, but it was far worse.
Cranky attended the second show of a two show audience preview, and will admit that he was a wee bit unnerved when he saw people walking out of the first show long before the feature could have ended. Having sat through a complete showing of Mars Attacks!, he is grateful not to be one of the humor-impaired, and urges you to give generously to any organization that can help the frodos who don't think Mars Attacks! is a scream.
Not "scream" in the sense of Aliens. "Scream" as in, "exceptionally funny and terrifically clever". Because that's what Mars Attacks! is. From the first Martian words translated by our computer devices -- "Dark is the suede that mows like a harvest" -- to the pride television personality Nathalie Lake (Sarah Jessica Parker) takes in being able to pronounce the word "astronautics," Mars Attacks! is packed full of clever gags, puns, in-jokes, out-jokes, bursting brains, exploding buildings, and Christmas color-spurting ray guns frying soldiers and civilians left and right.
They came. In Washington DC, the First Lady (Glenn Close) decided she didn't want the little green men in her house, but her liberal husband the President (Jack Nicholson), who spouts bits of LBJ speeches and believes the Martians came in peace, told her she'd have to. In Las Vegas a land developer (also Jack Nicholson) planned a luxury hotel called "the Galaxy," while his wife (Annette Bening) chugged Southern Comfort and balanced her chakras.
They saw. While Ms. Lake interviewed the pipe-smoking White House science advisor Professor Donald Kessler (Pierce Brosnan), her television newsman boyfriend Jason Stone (Michael J. Fox) checked out his hairdo and pronounced it "perfect."
They blasted. So many Hollywood stars go up in smoke during the course of Mars Attacks! that you could get high from sucking down the fumes. You could, that is, if we were living in the 1950s when "Smell-O-Vision" was in the experimental stage. Mars Attacks! does a 180 degree spin on the sci-fi movies of that decade, while paying homage to classic SF flicks like The Day the Earth Stood Still, Star Wars, and Alien.
The cast of character types and stereotypes continues: I should mention Rod Steiger as the Army general who behaves like George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove, Paul Winfield as the Army general who looks like the real life General Colin Powell; Martin Short, who looks like Michael J. Fox does in Spin City (trust me on this one), and Tom Jones, who looks like himself.
There's also Jim Brown, Danny DeVito, Sylvia Sidney, Natalie Portman, Pam Grier, and Lisa Marie, which takes care of the above the title credits. Cranky is nothing if not fair and thorough.
Jonathan Gems wrote the screenplay, for which, if the Academy had a sense of humor, he would be Oscar® nominated. But it doesn't, so he won't. Cranky just thought he'd mention it, 'cuz I don't mind being made wrong now and again.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Mars Attacks!, he would have paid . . .
The best comedy of the year.
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