Run time: 106 mins
In Theaters: Friday 13th December 1996
Box Office Worldwide: $101.4M
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
Production compaines: Tim Burton Productions
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 52%
Fresh: 33 Rotten: 30
IMDB: 6.3 / 10
Director: Tim Burton
Screenwriter: Jonathan Gems
Starring: Jack Nicholson as President James Dale / Art Land, Glenn Close as First Lady Marsha Dale, Annette Bening as Barbara Land, Pierce Brosnan as Professor Donald Kessler, Danny DeVito as Rude Gambler, Martin Short as Press Secretary Jerry Ross, Sarah Jessica Parker as Nathalie Lake, Michael J. Fox as Jason Stone, Rod Steiger as General Decker, Tom Jones as Himself, Natalie Portman as Taffy Dale, Lukas Haas as Richie Norris, Sylvia Sidney as Grandma Florence Norris, Lisa Marie as Martian Girl, Jim Brown as Byron Williams, Pam Grier as Louise Williams
The film is Mars Attacks!, and with it Tim Burton serves up the worst production of his once-blossoming career, a movie wherein he indulges every excess of his demented psyche, pays no attention to entertaining the audience, and recycles every joke he can get his hands on.
The joke recycling would be okay, even appropriate, given Burton's predilection for shtick, if only the jokes were funny! But they're not. Nothing much is funny in Mars Attacks!, whose mildly amusing War of the Worlds story can best be described as... Mars attacks.
Burton obviously started this production in the casting -- Jack Nicholson as the president, Glenn Close as his uppity wife, Annette Bening as a New Age freak, Pierce Brosnan as a sophisticated science advisor. You get the idea. I guess Burton figured that throwing Tom Jones (as himself) into the mix would make it all better.
And maybe it would have, except the performances look like they're cobbled together from the days off that the cast of some 15 "name" actors happened to have. Bits and pieces of what should be on the editing room floor have somehow made their way into the final print instead, and in no particular order, either. Only one running joke stands out as worthy -- a flirtation between two disembodied heads (I won't say who).
I realize that Mars Attacks! was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek homage to the cheesy, old sci-fi flicks (but Tim, you already made Ed Wood), but Mars Attacks! isn't even any good as a farce. The movie just plain looks bad -- too bad to be taken seriously, but not bad enough to look bad on purpose. And Burton's use of ultra-campy stars like Lisa Marie and Pam Grier? Puh-leeze. Where's Richard Roundtree, Tim?
Got the point yet? Because I'm tired of writing about this dead film. I wonder if we'll ever know what Burton had in mind when he put together this giant waste of time, but then again, who cares?
Nice 'do, Lisa.