Home > Movies, My Movie Reviews > “Christmas On Mars” Is Too Weird For Flaming Lips’ Fans

“Christmas On Mars” Is Too Weird For Flaming Lips’ Fans

You may not get it from their music…but the guys in The Flaming Lips are pretty odd. Their music can be pretty far out there and strange, but it has not for one second truly explained just how weird they are. When you see The Flaming Lips perform live, you get a much better sense of their eccentricities but their live shows are more theatrical than weird. For the first time, The Flaming Lips (most notably lead whacko Wayne Coyne) have created something that accurately portrays their insanity.

I type this sentence with a frown and a heavy heart: “Christmas On Mars” is not good. There are some things a person can overlook when you are watching a low-budget, indie flick such as effects or sets but this movie was flat out boring and didn’t make a lick of sense. If a script or an idea sucks, it doesn’t matter if you have $150,000 or $100,000,000 in budget…it’s going to suck.

The story goes like this: There are a group of humans that live on Mars. There is a woman birthing a baby and they live in a big bubble. There is some dude having hallucinations that seem to always involve female genitalia. There is a captain of the colony that overcusses in the worst way and puts on one of the worst acting performances in recorded human history. Then, Fred Armisen shows up, looks creepy, and sings “Silent Night”. If you can explain the stuff in between that stuff, be my guest.

It’s next to impossible to write a review for this movie. There is no real plot to speak of. The characters say and act in a way that makes you feel like something is wrong and they are all in danger but you never really find out what that is. I think it had something to do with their oxygen generator? It doesn’t really matter. Even if there was a discernible plot, the movie moves so slowly and the dialogue is said so poorly that you could sleep right through it.

Eventually, an alien shows up. The alien doesn’t appear to do anything and he never speaks. Why does this completely suck? Well, the alien is played by Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne, who also directed this disaster. You would think that a movie made by those affiliated with The Flaming Lips would have their lead singer have at least one freaking word of dialogue.

Fred Armisen, Adam Goldberg, and one or two other familiar folks show up but they can’t save this low-budget, underwhelming mess of a movie. Other than a few moments of kitschy props, such as the blatant use of a GE Electric Oven and a hand-held fan, there is unfortunately nothing of substance or merit in the entire 86-minute run time.

Trust me, writing this review sucked. I hate the fact that I was thoroughly bored during this entire movie. I hate the fact that I was annoyed during this entire movie. I hate it because I am such a fan of this band, their music, and their live shows. For a Flaming Lips fan, the anticipation of “Christmas On Mars” was so great that it makes this so disappointing.

On the drive home, Ms. Cinematically Correct said to me, “The best thing about that movie was the Flaming Lips music videos they played before the movie started.” Sad, but 100% true.

  1. bobby
    October 22, 2008 at 7:21 AM

    “You may not get it from their music…but the guys in The Flaming Lips are pretty odd.” – I thought this was a joke until I continued reading… they make it pretty plain on record that they’re messed up!

    Still looking forward to seeing it… they obviously had something Lynchian in mind, so hopefully I can overlook the nonsensical aspect!

  2. October 22, 2008 at 7:49 AM

    Oh there is no doubt that the band knows they are completely nuts.

    The movie is definitely aiming for something “Eraserhead”-ish. If you are a Lips fan, it’s worth seeing just to confirm their insanity. Even then, it’s pretty bad. If you didn’t know who The Flaming Lips were, it would be “Plan Nine From Outer Space” bad.

  3. whistle
    October 22, 2008 at 10:28 AM

    I concur. Except for the part about the story or idea sucking.

    The way Wayne spelled it out for me was that the astronauts were sent to Mars to build a space station. NASA ran out of money becuase the economy tanked and the astronauts were stuck up there and trying to convert it to a full-time space colony. The equipment was f-ing up and everyone was getting cabin fever and losing thier minds (that is why everyone was hallucinating and speaking so slowly and weirdly). Steven’s character was trying to boost morale and cheer everyone up by throwing a Christmas party.

    Now, I understand Wayne failed to convey all of this in the movie. That is why I think they should’ve started over after they learned thier way around the technical stuff involved in making a movie.

    The rest of the story is essentially there. And, in case you didn’t get it: the martian restores their equipment (this whole element was a reference to a movie Wayne loved as a child, can’t recall what he said the name was – I have never seen it).

    I firmly believe that this movie should be remade by a quality filmmaker and the Lips should write music to it and make it a musical with quality stage talent.

  4. Patrick
    October 1, 2009 at 3:49 PM

    See here’s the thing.
    Christmas on Mars was filmed over a 7 year period sporadically in between recording sessions, touring and such so redoing it all after finally finishing it was pretty much out of the question. Almost none of the characters were played by professional actors, most were family and friends and fans of the band. And the lines were written as they went along, there really wasnt a script at all. You really have to fill in the gaps your self, you have to put your own imagination into this one. Trust me its much better on the second go-round. This wasnt meant so much to be a mainstream film as much as an experience, when it came out they showed it after there shows on a huge screen. Like everything this band does, it was just a little bit different from everything else.
    If Wayne, as the super-being, were to say something, what would he say, his purpose was to save the people in the station, because after all they were genuinely good-hearted people. This coincides with the birth of the first baby off of earth, a celebration of life, mixed with the death of Major Syrtis’s friend(the santa man).
    The christmas celebration was meant to lift morale, because everyone had a feeling of impending doom.

    Apparently the original inspiration for the film came from hereing his(Wayne’s) mother trying to explain this movie she saw on late night television, where there were these people stuck in a space station or in an isolated facility or something, adn they all new they were going to die for some reason, but then a savior comes. After so many years(his mother explained this to him in his youth), he realized that what must have happened is that his mom saw the beginning of one movie, the middle of another, and the end of another, falling asleep in between all these films, and when he realized that this movie didn’t actually exist he knew he had to make it.

  5. Derek
    October 23, 2010 at 7:14 PM

    ya this movie can be really confusing at first since it sorta jumps into it and bizarre shit is happenin but i think its a fairly simple movie to understand once stevens character essentially explains the entire movie to the alien. People arent meant to live in space because of its emptiness and people need symbolism to give meaning to their life. In this movie a baby was born on christmas day and wayne coyne came down from the heavens and fixed their oxygen generator. While the flaming lips clearly arent not devout religious folks they use the idea of religion as an example for how people need to give a reason to their lives in order to not go fuckin nuts. this movie is most certainly an experience but that doesnt mean that it sucks. without meaning in people’s lives they lose their emotions really (except for depression and such) so its hard to convey this idea in a fun entertaining way. I thought it was a good movie although most certainly not an accessible one or repeatably watched one or a top ten in anyones books. and the flaming lips really arent that crazy.

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