In one corner, we have the awesomely weird Tim Burton comedy "Mars Attacks!" In the other, we have "The Watch," which hits DVD this week. One stars all of your favorite actors and is a kitschy wonderland, and the other has jokes about horny extraterrestrials. Which should you watch?
See This: "Mars Attacks!"
In 1996, Tim Burton released perhaps his most underrated gem, the alien invasion action comedy, "Mars Attacks!" The undeniably strange sci fi flick features an impressive ensemble cast consisting of Jack Nicholson (as the president, natch), Glenn Close, Sarah Jessica Parker, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Natalie Portman, Lukas Haas, Annette Bening, Martin Short and more. At the time, the film was considered a major bomb, despite opening at #2; it only made $9 million by the end of the weekend, but it was and still is widely beloved by the "Mars Attacks!" faithful. The pulpy '60s imagery from the Topps trading cards that Burton drew upon is currently experiencing a comeback, as well; the company is reissuing a special "Mars Attacks" 50th Anniversary book that includes reproductions of the entire line, as well as cool behind-the-scenes sketches and more.
The Martians have landed, and at first everyone thinks the aliens will be peaceful. What could be more harmless than a weird creature that can only say "Ack!" and looks like a skull with a brain attached? A lot of things, as it turns out!
As the little green men begin destroying landmarks around the world and killing politicians left and right (including the president!), a young man from Kansas (Haas) and his grandmother discover how to destroy them. See, you can 'splode their heads by playing the song "Indian Love Call" by Slim Whitman. And so the world is saved by a misfit and his cool granny.
"Mars Attacks" has everything! Ray guns, parakeets, human heads attached to dog bodies, Lisa Marie as a sexy Martian girl, heavyweight champions, Tom Jones shot at with laser guns, aliens that say "Ack!" and Michael J. Fox. Needless to say, there is pretty much no reason to watch any other movie ever.
Not That: "The Watch"
"The Watch" is an alien invasion comedy that wishes it were as absurdly great as "Mars Attacks." Directed by "Saturday Night Live" writer and "Hot Rod" director Akiva Schaffer, "The Watch" is about a group of guys in a neighborhood watch who stumble upon an alien plot to rule Earth. It opened at #3 earlier this year to the tune of a sad $12 million, which is nothing compared to the usual open weekend haul from such former comedy powerhouses as Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. The film also stars skinny Jonah Hill and, in a move so brilliant it may help the film find a large hipster following on DVD, British comedian and "Submarine" writer/director Richard Ayoade.
Although the cast overall seemed to garner good response, the movie itself was trashed by critics, ending up with a 17% on Rotten Tomatoes. Many were put off by the sheer vulgarity of the jokes, although an alien deciding to fight alongside the humans after discovering oral sex could be funny to some, I imagine? And killing people by ripping off their private parts is, like, probably super funny, right? Hrmm. Ultimately, this R-rated "Ghostbusters Lite" as Rolling Stone's Peter Travers described it, fails because it simply isn't funny or original enough to be worth the time or money. If you need your alien comedy fix, definitely go for the creepy and wack-tastic "Mars Attacks!" over the crude and predictable "The Watch."