While writing my forecast for tomorrow, the movie “Mars Attacks!” popped into my head. Tomorrow is another dicey day astrologically, and somehow “Mars Attacks!” (“MA”) seemed appropriate (along with “Gunsmoke”).
After I finished the piece, I researched the movie a bit further and found that it came out the same year as “Independence Day.”
MA received 50/50 reviews. Tim Burton fans did not like it because it did not seem like standard Tim Burton to them. Others did not like it apparently because they do not like Tim Burton. But some people thought it was funny, and as I watched snippets of it, I recalled that I am one of them.
Not all of it is funny. The Pierce Brosnan / Sarah Jessica Parker “talking heads” at the end is not funny to me. Even though Tom Jones cameos can be fun / funny, the one in this movie did not work for me. But most of the rest of it is a laugh riot.
To some degree, the humor is generational. (Maybe all humor is.) If you grew up seeing re-runs of the old 1950’s and maybe 1960’s scifi, then it is funny. By the 1980’s all that old footage had been mostly supplanted by newer material, and people growing up in the 80’s and beyond probably will not find MA to be funny. Familiarity with the original versions of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and other similar movies, notably the various older versions of “War of the Worlds,” are essential to set the stage for this movie. Otherwise, mostly it does not work.
To me, the same is more true for, say, “Young Frankenstein.” If you grew up watching the old Frankenstein variants after school, then it is funny. But if you grew up after that, maybe on “Judge Judy,” then the gags will leave you mirthless.
At some point, someone will eventually deduce some way to make something funny out of, say, the Friday the 13th movies. Saturday the 14th was a stab at it, but IMDB gives it a one star rating. I heard the same from friends and never bothered to see it.
One other thing I like about “Mars Attacks!” is that the “Evil Aliens” are at least funny. And, I think the gag about the old Slim Whitman song “Indian Love Call” making the aliens’ heads explode as a parody of the end of “War of the Worlds” is perfect.