Christmas on Mars is a bit like Eraserhead in space or Vegas In Space on downers. Great sets, bizarre soundscapes, but scant on story or characters you might care about for most of the movie. The film pulls it together in a somewhat sweet way in the final 15 minutes, but until then, mood trumps story. And the mood is cold and lonely, just like space.
If you’re itching to see this, I recommend watching Cory McAbee’s The American Astronaut (2001) instead. American Astronaut is a black and white, low-budget, inventive-looking, sci-fi epic made by a musician. Same deal, but really good. And if people tell you, “But Christmas on Mars has an amazing scene with a marching band with vaginas for heads,” don’t worry. American Astronaut counters with a beautiful musical number called The Girl With The Vagina Made of Glass. Like I say, same deal.
Optimal viewing experience for Christmas On Mars is to see it unwittingly on a tv monitor at a bar with the sound off. You’ll stare transfixed thinking it’s the best thing you’ve ever seen. You’ll ask the bartender, “What is this? It looks amazing.” If you’re lucky, she’ll say, I’m not sure. And it will stick in your mind as a beautiful memory.