300. Mars Attacks!

Movie: Mars Attacks!

Release Date: December 13, 1996

Director: Tim Burton

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox, Rod Steiger, Tom Jones, Lukas Haas, Natalie Portman, Jim Brown, Lisa Marie, Sylvia Sidney.

Tag Lines: “Nice planet. We’ll take it!”

“YIKES! They’ve Landed!”

Relevance: My son was born in late January of 1997. As anyone who has had the pleasure of having a newborn, the schedule leading up to the big event and the months after are quite hectic. To make matters more chaotic I was working full time in retail during the Christmas season. Needless to say, I did not get to the movies many times from November of 1996 through the spring of 1997. So ‘Mars Attacks!’ went unnoticed.

I didn’t get to see the movie until the spring or summer of 1997 when it became available as a rental. As a new parent, I was not getting much sleep at the time. With baby in arms, a lot of my television and movie viewings happened after midnight and before 6 am. If I wasn’t watching re-runs of “Three’s Company” or “Good Times,” I was watching a rented VHS tape. ‘Mars Attacks!’ was one such movie.

The movie was everything I had come to expect from a Tim Burton film. Odd, funny, weird and well crafted and I enjoyed it that first time a lot. I will say the one element that made this movie jump from “a like” to “a love” was how they were able to stop the aliens. For those of you who do not know me personally, let me share a small glimmer of knowledge about myself. I love music. I will listen to everything from pop to rock to show tunes to classical. The only genre I do not partake in is country. I absolutely despise it. So when the aliens heads imploded from Conway Twitty, I laughed really loud for a really long time. Thus waking up my son. But it was totally worth it.

Director Tim Burton makes his second appearance here on my list of most influential movies. (for his first see 315. Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street) Mr. Burton will be showing up here five more times as he is the second most popular director on the list, closely behind the one and only Steven Spielberg. I have always admired his odd, quirky style of film-making. Even his movies that I won’t be watching this year during this project are still bold, artistic choices that celebrate his signature camp.

Today’s Thoughts: My son is now twenty-three years old and I probably have not watched ‘Mars Attacks!’ in its entirety since that first time when he was only a few months old. I probably have caught it once or twice when it showed up on either TBS or AMC. But today was the first time in a long time that I watched it from beginning to end.

Classic Burton! If you skipped the credits and didn’t see his name, you would still know that Tim Burton had a hand in some aspect of this film. From the style of directing, to the visual effects, to the quirky story, all representative traits of Mr. Burton. And that is a huge complement.

That ensemble that he gathered is quite impressive. Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael J. Fox, just to name a few, all have their special moments. I will have to say though, Glenn Close’s spit take albeit very short is probably my favorite of those moments.

And then there is Sylvia Sidney, aka Juno from ‘Beetlejuice,’ one of Burton’s other films that I will be watching this year, as Grandma Florence Norris. This was her last role, and what a role to go out with. Grandma and Conway Twitty save the day. It still makes me laugh quite a bit.

I do empathize with the aliens though. When I hear country music, that’s how my head feels. “Ack! Ack! Ack!”

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, DVD Availability.

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