Who's in It:
John Cusack, Bobby Coleman, Amanda Peet, Joan Cusack, Sophie Okonedo, Oliver Platt, Richard Schiff
The Basics: John Cusack plays the fake version of writer David Gerrold, the guy who wrote the Tribbles episode of Star Trek and who also really did adopt a troubled eight-year-old who thought he was from Mars. And since Gerrold wrote a book about his experience, you can pretty much rest assured that it all turned out fine, with lots of hugs and moments of deep personal discovery.
What's the Deal? My heart is a blackened, charred place where no sweetness resides. At least that's how this made me feel. It was low-key enough, it means well, it's reasonably well-made, and it lacked most of the usual wet-eyed stuff that other movies about kids who teach adults to love like to fire-hose-blast you with. And best of all, it has Joan Cusack in it, who's pretty much never not entertaining. But I still felt nothing. This kind of story comes fully packaged already. You know how it all turns out. They're going to persevere and become a true family and do their best to move you to tears. You'll either succumb to its rote love-saves-the-day agenda or you won't.
We Are the Robots: There's something off about the way people talk to each other. It's stiff and clunky a lot of the time, and you just don't buy it when they have normal everyday conversations, even about stuff like how much they enjoy baseball. It's really noticeable and keeps you at a big distance most of the time.
She Even Made That Horrible Kate Hudson Movie More Bearable: I forget the name of it. The one where Kate has the Uggs on in the poster. Garry Marshall worst director ever made it. Oh, wait, it's called Raising Helen. Boy, what a piece of crap that is. But Joan Cusack is in it. And when Joan Cusack is in something, you're enjoying her in the moments she's onscreen, even when she gets lower billing than a pair of fuzzy boots. Here, she's John's sister, who tells him that raising kids will ruin his life, calling her own "Omen 1" and "Omen 2."
Yes, Gays, They Heterosexualized Him: The real guy, David Gerrold, is gay. But they changed him to straight for this. And gave him Amanda Peet to flirt with. Who knows who's responsible for that retro decision. But you can bet it has to do with the box office and the fact that there are some people out there who just won't go see a movie where a gay guy is the hero who adopts a kid and it all turns out nicely, even if that is how it happened in real life. Because you don't want to offend the morons out there. They spend money, too.