Movie Review - Mars Attacks
Lack of laughs shoots down 'Mars Attacks!'

BY MARGARET A. McGURK
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Mars Attacks In the year of Independence Day, Tim Burton's sardonic sci-fi comedy Mars Attacks! coulda been a contenda in the subversive parody category.

It's got attitude, goodness knows; it has stars by the fistful; and it certainly was made with technical skill.

What it doesn't have is enough of a story to fill an hour and 46 minutes. Maybe plot is too much to expect from a movie inspired by a line of gross-out trading cards instead of something weighty and complex, like a comic book.

Nor does it have nearly enough laughs. The Martians are pretty funny, but most of the humans are not. Jack Nicholson in particular is shockingly dull in a key role. He looks dissipated and sounds exhausted, as if saddled with a permanent hangover.

Here's what we do have: Martians in a mass of cheesy-cute '50s-style flying saucers invade. A poll-conscious president (Mr. Nicholson), a pacifist general (Paul Winfield) and a waffling scientist (Pierce Brosnan) decide to poffer friendship. Big mistake.

The Martians incinerate earthlings while various ID4-like characters (hippie crystal wearers, a trailer park kid, Vegas gamblers) try to escape.

Stand-outs are few. Jim Brown as an ex-boxer and Pam Grier as his ex-wife are winning. Sarah Jessica Parker achieves actual comedy as a fashion reporter involved with a hair-obsessed TV reporter (Michael J. Fox) until fate and the Martians throw her (and her pet Chihuahua) together with Mr. Brosnan's scientist on board an invader's ship.

Mostly, the human characters don't do anything except appear long enough to be recognized (Hey! Annette Bening! Look! Danny DeVito!) Finally the trailer park kid (Lukas Haas) and his grandmother (Sylvia Sidney) stumble on a musical formula to make the Martians' heads explode.

Then Tom Jones sings. And my head explodes. The end.

MOVIE REVIEW
Mars Attacks!
*1/2
(PG-13; threatening language, violence, cruelty to animals, grisly special effects) Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, Martin Short, Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Lukas Haas, Sylvia Sidney. 106 minutes. At National Amusements, Showplace 8, Danbarry Middletown.