Review: The Flaming Lips – “Christmas On Mars”


Above: The “Christmas On Mars” trailer. You have been warned.

By Joel Francis

Blame the Flaming Lips for contributing to Christmas creep. Their long-awaited (holiday?) sci-fi flick lands on DVD next Thursday and will be shown on the big screen in select theaters around the country all month. If you live in Kansas City, Mo., you have two opportunities to see the film. Screenland will host viewings at 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 21 and at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22. Below is a reprint of my review of a sneak peek screening at Wakarusa last summer.

“Christmas On Mars” – Friday night, the Flaming Lips tent

The chance to catch a band-hosted screening of the Flaming Lips’ seven-years-in-the-making movie “Christmas on Mars” overpowered the need for sleep for many Wakarusa campers.

Shortly after the Lips’ spectacular set on the Sun Down Stage, 200 fans lucky enough to snag a free ticket earlier in the evening were ushered into the band’s large “Eat Your Own Spaceship” tent. Inside, it felt a lot like summer camp. Everyone sat on long wooden benches and roadies handed out popcorn.

After a short personal introduction from lead Lip Wayne Coyne and a longer recorded interview, the film finally started around 1 a.m.

The movie follows the descent of paranoia and psychosis on a crew of astronauts in their Martian space station on Christmas Eve. Multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd plays the main astronaut while Coyne portrays an emerald-hued, antennae-sporting Martian who swallows an asteroid, is detained by the space crew and then forced into the role of Santa Claus.

The results are pretty much what you’d expect from a group with no acting or screenwriting background, paying for their production as they go. Fans started sneaking out almost as soon as the rock-show volume movie started. When I finally succumbed an hour into the movie a herd of fans were seated on the ground outside the tent for the next showing. Live and learn.