When the internet pulled me aside to tell me that several Americans who went to see The Martian thought it was based on a true story I had two thoughts simultaneously: 1. The internet is a dirty liar, and 2. This story is obviously true. My second thought then grew friends- all of whom were severely depressed. The only thing that made me feel better was The Martian itself.
It’s a very good movie and you should see it. It actually was based on a true story, but that story was a book, which was, in fact, a work of fiction. Not by much, though, and that is what makes both works so very cool. Actually, the (true) story of how the book got published was so great that the author, Andy Weir, spends a few pages explaining how it all came about after concluding the story.
The guy’s a nerd. For years he, for fun, planned imaginary NASA missions down to their most impossibly minute details. I feel the need to repeat that he did this for sheer enjoyment. For this story he only needed to invent the method of reaching Mars, a non-lame NASA, and a character to torture. All of the rest of the story’s action plays by exacting, real-world(s) rules. The movie’s drawback is that, despite its nearly 2 ½ hour running time, it has to move so quickly that the viewer doesn’t get the same satisfaction from the brains, determination and humor on display that the reader enjoys. And it is genuinely funny. I should warn you that there is some profanity in the film (and actually more in the book) but it’s all about as situationally appropriate as bad language can get- and still slightly less than what you might experience in my car when I’m stopped by a train.
I’ve never used this space to recommend any books or movies in large measure because most of the stuff I think is really well done is not appropriate for teens and families. (And much of it’s not great for me either.) But this is at the very top of a list of one, joining the video game Portal 2, which also won its gold by a wide margin over exactly zero competition. Other than the bad words, I can’t think of anything that I need to warn you about. Neither version contains the slightest hint of political posturing or message sending. None of the characters are, to our knowledge, questioning their gender. Actually, one of the great things about the story is that it doesn’t have a bad guy- just decent, competent people working butts (oh yeah! you see Matt Damon’s, but you won’t care.) off. As tense as the whole affair is, it’s utterly optimistic and uplifting.
You’ll wish it was all possible, but also think maybe it could be someday. Until the internet pulls you aside and…
*If you can, read the book first. And don’t break any speed limits getting to the theater. My guess is that the DVD is going to have an extended version that’ll look great from your couch as well as respond to your pause button. Thank you for supporting Edmond Family Counseling. Visit our FB page or follow our @beedmond1 Twitter feed to stay up to date with all our programs and events in Edmond.