Cute of a different kind.
Cute as Dennis (Bobby Coleman) is, he's too cute, regardless of whether or not he's Martian. Now David (John Cusack) is cute as well as a successful, childlike science fiction writer widower, who decides to adopt this cute kid in Martian Child.
Had enough cute already? So did I half way through this father/son comedy that's better than Will Smith's Happyness because it's not all about Cusack as it was about Smith. Yet I'm not happy because the constant struggle about the boy's origin gets older than an alien on social security.
Dennis's introverted isolation, best signified by the portholed box he inhabits during the day to avoid the sun's harmful rays, like a mobile homeless person, is a creative variation of the clich?d outsider kid whose cuteness is his calling card for a potentially adopting parent. For this imaginative turn, I applaud the filmmakers. The unimaginative writer David, rehabbed by Dennis, is straight out of Nick Hornby's adapted About a Boy with Hugh Grant as the morphing child-man, and uncounted cute boy/adult fantasies.
As an inveterate X-Files, Twilight Zone fan, I kept hoping the story would hinge on the paranormal rather than the parental, but you can probably guess from my tone and comments where the story goes. If you like cute, Martian Child is for you; if you like E.T., go home.