Mars Attacks!

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

If you watch this movie expecting a serious science fiction drama, you will be sorely disappointed. However, if you watch it in the spirit it was made -- as a farce -- you will spend two very enjoyable hours laughing until your sides ache.

Mars Attacks! was on the Hugo ballot last year for Best Dramatic Performance: however, it lost to the Babylon 5 episode "Severed Dreams." It's quite possible that it lost simply because it is essentially a comedy, a send-up of all the clichˇs of the alien-invasion sub-genre, and people tend to think that tragic drama is more "serious" and "meaningful" than a spoof.

Everybody and everything gets ragged in this movie, from the President to the military to diplomacy to B-grade alien-invasion moves to rednecks to Las Vegas. Tom Jones makes a guest appearance, poking fun at his own career and winding up on a mountainside, singing "It's Not Unusual" to a bevy of wild creatures after the aliens have destroyed Las Vegas and presumably all civilization.

The movie begins in the manner of the typical alien-invasion movie (The Day the Earth Stood StillIndependence Day, etc.), with the discovery of the alien armada on its way toward Earth. The sicentists are sure that the aliens must be friendly, simply because they are so very advanced.

However, these hopes prove to be false. When the aliens land, something goes disastrously wrong, and they interpret something that the General (a parody of Colin Powell) does as hostile. They then open fire on everyone present at the welcome ceremony.

From then on, the aliens are on a rampage. At first they seem unstoppable, destroying everything in their path. Then they attempt to attack the nursing home where the senile grandmother of the trailer-trash family lives. However, her beloved 50's music has the power to turn the aliens' oversized brains into jelly and spatter them as goo all over the alien helmets. Suddenly the tide turns, as a few brave humans find a way to broadcast the deadly music to all the aliens.

At the end, the President's daughter (apparently the only surviving authority figure to be found anywhere) awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the very un-redneck surviving son of the trailer-trash family and his senile grandmother whose favorite music proved to be the undoing of the Martians.

I want to buy Mars Attacks! in regular VHS format.

I want to buy Mars Attacks! in widescreen VHS format.

I want to buy Mars Attacks! onDVD .

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Review posted December 16, 1998