Mars Attacks! (1996) starring Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker directed by Tim Burton Movie Review

Mars Attacks! (1996)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Jack Nicholson as President James Dale in Mars Attacks! (1996)

Jack Ack Ack

"Mars Attacks!" is probably one of the best spoof movies ever made with a star cast, a lot of daftness and 50s sci-fi as the basis of most of the parodying. That's how I now feel about Tim Burton's 1996 sci-fi comedy; although it is not how I have always felt as for a time I disliked the movie because of its utter daftness. But it is that utter daftness, the idea of Sarah Jessica Parker's head on a dog's body or Rod Steiger as a full on military General hell bent on war and Jack Nicholson as President of the United States which amongst many things makes it entertaining.

I'm not going to bother giving you a plot to "Mars Attacks!" because in truth it can be summed up by saying aliens invade earth and start exterminating everyone. But like any great spoof movie the storyline is just the recognizable vehicle for a lot of hilarity as Tim Burton and writer Jonathan Gems basically trawl through 50s sci-fi movies, cherry pick things and then combine them into 106 minutes of utter chaos. So that means we have America at the heart of this story and of course the U.S. President, but we also have the trailer trash component who are gung ho and then there is the slick scientist who falls for a girl. I could go on because there are so many recognizable elements combined and updated to make for a lot of fun.

Sarah Jessica Parker as Nathalie Lake in Mars Attacks! (1996)

But that fun also comes from the number of stars playing silly characters such as Pierce Brosnan as a pipe smoking scientist, Sarah Jessica Parker as a fashion reporter, Jim Brown who works in a Vegas casino and Jack Black who you double take when you realise it's him with a shaved head. And I could go on because you lose track of the number of stars appearing in big roles as well as small giving it all in the name of utter daftness. But of course at the centre of this is Jack Nicholson who not only plays the President but also a shady Vegas casino owner giving us extreme opposite characters but both a lot of fun.

And then there is the visuality of "Mars Attacks!" which grabs your attention right from the get go when you witness a herd of cows tearing down a road whilst on fire. It is daft but then also entertaining as are the aliens with their big brains and a language which consists of "ack, ack, ack". Then there is the visual daftness from the pod chairs in a studio to as already mention Sarah Jessica Parker's head ending up on the body of a dog.

What this all boils down to is that "Mars Attacks!" is simply Tim Burton spoofing 50s sci-fi and in doing so delivering an intentionally cheesy and hilarious homage to the movies he loves. It is utterly daft but once you just watch for all the daft jokes and the cast having a lot of fun it becomes entertaining.