Christmas on Mars (2008)

“Dude, ya gotta do another Christmas movie for the site,” texts the portly proprietor of B&S About Movies, not realizing the proverbial stocking of worms he’s unleashing from this writer’s fingertips.

Just to be clear: I don’t do spunky elves, mystical reindeer, or magic snow globes. I go for the coal. Well, unless it’s a Fred Olin Ray holiday fest or a David DeCoteau Christmas movie. Other than that: If you want a Christmas movie review from me; you get the Wayne Coyne version of a Christmas movie . . . and one that stars the guy who once a cavorted with a talking blue dog.

You heard me right: And Steven Burns, the Daytime Emmy Winning actor-host of Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues drops “F-Bombs” in this movie . . . and he co-stars with The Flaming Lips—you know, the alternative rock band you saw performing their U.S Top 100 hit about a girl who preferred using Vaseline over Jelly, live at The Peach Pit in the 90210 zip code.

This is a world where Quentin Tarantino’s first film, My Best Friend’s Birthday, collides with David Lynch’s Eraserhead. If Kevin Smith’s debut film, Clerks, had been about two slacker cafeteria workers in the Death Star Canteen . . .

“You will still need a tray.”

. . . but Dante and Randal can’t handle the pressures of slinging Empire hash, so they smoke hash behind the trash compactor and trip-out into Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris territory (as Christmas on Mars pays tribute to the cycle of Eastern Bloc-Russian psychological sci-fi films), this is that movie.

Christmas on Mars is a performance piece comprised of a 16mm feature-length film and a concept album that tells the story of Major Syrtis (the Lips’ Steven Drozd), the commander of the first colony on Mars—that’s celebrating its first Christmas . . . and the birth of its first child. As Sytris suffers a breakdown resulting from his obsessive planning of a holiday pageant to celebrate the birth, he finds an unlikely party planner: a Martian (the Lips’ Wanye Coyne)—or is he a colonist who flipped out and painted himself green—who agrees to become a de facto Santa Claus for the colonists.

Rounding out the cast of astro-colonists are fellow Lips’ members Scott Booker, Michael Ivins, and Kliph Scurlock, along with SNL’s Fred Armisen (TV’s Portlandia) and the always appreciated jittery-paranoid Adam Goldberg (Dazed and Confused, The Hebrew Hammer).

Never released theatrically—outside of unconventional, non-theatrical venues, such as social clubs and film and music festivals—the film was released in three formats: a single DVD available at commercial retailers, a deluxe edition DVD-CD soundtrack combo, and a collectible DVD-CD “Mega Deluxe Edition” packed with movie-related Lips’ paraphernalia and swag.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

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