Martian Child

Rated 2.0

A science fiction writer (John Cusack) adopts a boy (Bobby Coleman) who says he’s from Mars and is on Earth to research what being human is like; the writer understands that it’s a coping mechanism and plans to give the boy the love and security he needs. David Gerrold’s autobiographical novel, adapted by Seth Bass and Jonathan Tolins, loses far more than the word “The” from the title. For starters, the writer is no longer gay—far from it, in fact, he’s now a grieving widower who, between cute moments with his new son, flirts with his late wife’s sister (Amanda Peet). There are many other changes as well, in plot, character and emphasis, and they add up to a betrayal of the book—surprisingly so, since Gerrold himself is credited as executive producer. Menno Meyjes’ sluggish direction doesn’t help.