David Gordon, a popular science fiction author, was widowed when his wife Mary died as they were trying to adopt a child. Two years later, David is finally matched with a young boy named Dennis. Socially awkward, Dennis believes he is from Mars and only goes outdoors when under the cover of a large box to block out the sun's harmful rays. Although initially hesitant to adopt a boy by himself, David recognizes a part of him in Dennis and slowly coaxes him out of the box and into his home.
With the help of David's friend Harlee and sister Liz, David and Dennis begin an arduous process of learning about each other, from Dennis's incessant photo-taking habits, his inclination to eat only Lucky Charms, and his perpetual stealing, to David's continuing love of his wife, his love of baseball and his own struggles to be accepted by others.
As David teaches Dennis how to be an "Earthling", father and son earn each other's trust and eventually find someone who will love them unequivocally.John Cusack as David Gordon
Zak Ludwig as young David
Bobby Coleman as Dennis
Amanda Peet as Harlee
Sophie Okonedo as Sophie
Oliver Platt as Jeff
Joan Cusack as Liz Gordon
Anjelica Huston as Tina
Richard Schiff as Lefkowitz
Howard Hesseman as Dr. Berg
David Kaye as Andy
Despite persistent misperceptions, this film is not based on David Gerrold's semi-autobiographical novelette The Martian Child, but rather is based on his fictional Hugo and Nebula Award-winning short story of the same name, which has caused much confusion about the source material, especially for Gerrold's fans in segments of the gay community. The short story does not reveal the fictionalized protagonist's homosexuality. Only when, years later, Gerrold rewrote and expanded his story to novella length did he choose to reveal his sexuality. While Gerrold had, in real life, adopted a son as an openly gay man, in the film the protagonist is straight and has a female love interest. Though Gerrold has acknowledged that his short story is a work of fiction, and despite the fact that the short story won numerous awards as a work of fiction, some members of gay community persisted in perpetuating the misperception that the short story was "true" and criticized the lead role in the film being portrayed as straight.
Martian Child opened in 2,020 venues on November 2, 2007 and earned $3,376,669 in its first weekend, ranking seventh in the domestic box office and third among the weekend's new releases. The film closed six weeks later on December 13, having grossed $7,500,310 domestically and $1,851,434 overseas, totaling $9,351,744 worldwide. Based on its estimated $27 million budget, the film was a box office bomb.
The film received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 33% score, based on 106 reviews, with an average rating of 5/10. The site's consensus states: "Despite some charms, overt emotional manipulation and an inconsistent tone prevents Martian Child from being the heartfelt dramedy it aspires to be." Metacritic reports a 48 out of 100 rating, based on 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Martian Child was released on DVD on February 12, 2008. It opened at #20 the DVD sales chart, selling 69,000 units for revenue of $1.3 million. As per the latest figures, 400,000 DVD units have been sold, acquiring revenue of $7,613,945. This does not include DVD rentals/Blu-ray sales.