Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Our Friend Martin

Go To
Our Friend, Martin is a Direct to Video film released by DiC Entertainment in 1999. A boy named Miles is doing none too well at school, and unless he improves his grades, not only will he have to repeat the 6th grade, but his mother won't let him play baseball. One day, while with his class on a field trip to a museum, he and his friend, Randy, come across an artifact that takes them back in time to meet one of history's greatest icons, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The film provides examples of:

  • An Aesop: While you can't change the past (not without disastrous results, at least), you can change the future for the better.
  • Big "NO!": Miles says this to Martin as he decides to go back to his time, worried about the good King's inevitable death.
  • The Bully: Kyle, especially in the alternate timeline where Martin's work never happened (Randy becomes one as well in this timeline). He gets better by the end.
  • Cassandra Truth: Before Miles and Randy go on their second time travel adventure, Mrs. Peck vaguely warns them that "messing with the fabric of history can result in a busted seam". Miles brushes it off and goes on with Randy.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mrs. Peck when it comes to Martin and Randy's intentions.
  • Deep South: Randy has a southern accent.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Since this film is about why MLK was so important, it naturally shows the racism of the past and an alternate timeline where MLK never did his work for civil rights.
  • Advertisement:
  • Disappeared Dad: Miles' dad is never seen or mentioned.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Old Man Willis has a reputation as a reckless bus driver.
  • For Want of a Nail: Bringing Martin back to the present turns out to be a really bad idea. Racism is rampant (and so is sexism, apparently), the school is named after Robert E. Lee instead of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Miles' mother now works as a maid. Not to mention Miles' home (and the rest of North America) heavily polluted and technologically stagnant.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The opening scene of the movie shows Martin deciding to go back to his own time while Miles desperately pleads for him not to go back which is the movie's climax.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Maria takes out her ID card, it shows that her birthday is on January 29, 1988.
  • Freudian Excuse: Kyle's bad attitude seems to stem from an abusive dad.
  • Advertisement:
  • Funny Background Event: Throughout their travels, Miles and Randy are shown in the background of the Real Life footage of the Civil Rights' protests. Those events get recorded and shown in the present era which tip off Maria and Kyle about their shenanigans.
  • Go-Getter Girl: Maria is a responsible, straight A student with a no-nonsense attitude.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Maria, being the token Hispanic character, does this every now and then.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Randy has light blonde hair and is a good-hearted boy. This gets subverted in the Bad Future where he becomes a racist bully. But it's played straight again after Martin fixes the timeline.
  • Hard-Work Montage: The ending of the cartoon has Mile's class cleaning an old alley and repainting a mural in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. And to everyone's surprise, it was all Kyle's idea.
  • Held Back in School: Miles is in danger of having to repeat 6th grade unless his grades improve. Fortunately, it's averted by the end: a few trips through history help him learn a lot about the subject, allowing him to get an A+ on his history test and advance to 7th grade.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: At the start of the movie, Miles is mainly interested in becoming a famous baseball player. He sees no reason on improving his grades if they won't help him achieve his athletic dream.
  • Implied Death Threat: The racist mother Mrs. Dell from the first visit gives one to Randy when he proudly declares that he and Miles hang out all the time.
    Mrs. Dell: I suggest you leave them negroes alone, or the only 'hanging' you'll be doing with them is from a tree.
  • In-Series Nickname: Martin refers to Miles as "My-My-Miles" after their first meeting.
  • Mr. Exposition: Martin becomes this to Miles and Randy as he explains how the African American community is mistreated and oppressed throughout history. Justified since this is an educational cartoon based on Dr. King's civil rights' activism and his motivations behind it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: After learning that Martin was assassinated, Miles decides to save him by bringing him to the future. However, this means that he was never able to get involved in his activism, with terrible results.
  • Older Than They Look: Ms. Clark was present for Dr. King's "I Had A Dream" speech in Washington D.C. in 1963 and has aged gracefully in the present day.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Turner, one of Martin's followers, tries to convince the others to do this against the white segregationists who burned Martin's home to the ground. The good King convinces them not to use violence and should instead use more peaceful methods.
  • Police Brutality: The boys wind up in Birmingham, 1963 where they witness a legion of police officers attacking Martin's protesters with attack dogs, fire hoses, and unrated violence.
  • The Power of Love: The King family have a strong belief that love is a powerful emotion that can change people's hearts for the better. Their son Martin has used this message as the back-burner for his campaigns in fighting for equal rights.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: The skies turn red-violet when Miles and friends unintentionally create a world without Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Running Gag: Kyle always loses his shirt.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Miles tries this by bringing Martin to his timeline to prevent his assassination, but unintentionally does the opposite instead.
  • Set Wrong What Was Once Made Right: After seeing what happens to the future without him, Martin Luther King Jr volunteers to go back to his time, knowing that it will end in his death.
  • Shout-Out: Martin sees a vision of his father in the clouds, played by James Earl Jones, instilling some words of wisdom to him which motivate the boy to do what needs to be done. Why does that feel so familiar?
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Maria's reaction when she ends up in the same group as Miles, Randy and Kyle.
    Maria: Great. Madame Curie meets the Three Stooges.
  • Tears of Joy: Maria gets these after watching Martin deliver his 'I Have a Dream' speech in Washington.
  • There Was a Door: Kyle initially tries to break into Dr. King's house via window, much to Maria's annoyance. Mrs. Peck even informs them that the door is open.
  • Time Machine: The watch that Miles and Randy find allow them to travel back to the past. Specifically Martin Luther King Jr.'s past.
  • Token Black Friend: Inverted. Miles, an African-American, is the black protagonist, while his best friend, Randy, is white and exists largely to be a friend to him.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Kyle becomes nicer as the film progresses.