Mars seems to have a dangerous shortage of things, doesn’t it? Mostly pertaining to women, moms, cheerleaders and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall antics. The economic depression has really hit Mars, making it the dangerous, hobo cousin of the galaxy. Always stealing the nice silverware and taking showers at our house. Well, not anymore! Mars Needs Moms (MNM) is the right inspiration for us Earthlings to rise up against our Red Planet competitors! I’m kidding, this movie is pretty dull if you’re over eight years old.
This is where I type a fair length paragraph explaining the plot of the movie, but…it’s called Mars Needs Moms. Really, do you need an explanation? The plot involves Mars…needing moms. Spoilers. Fine, fine, I’ll get a little deeper in the plot for you curious kittens. Basically, Milo (Seth Green) has a good mom. Unfortunately, being a good mother makes Mom (Joan Cusack’s character is never given a name….just Mom) a lovely candidate for Mars’ mom-snatching project. Mom, mom, mom. I have a bad feeling that I’ll be forced to say “mom” a lot in this review. So, Mom gets abducted and Milo sneaks on board to rescue her. Antics ensue, etc. The plot isn’t really complicated, just a “Run here! Run there!” adventure.
Lately, Disney has been making great family films that everyone can enjoy. Tangled, for example. Sadly, Mars Needs Moms came up a little shallow and boring. The humor is definitely more geared towards kids, which is fine if you’re a kid. But, I’m betting you’re an adult, aren’t you? That’s the dilemma. Your kids will chortle, snicker, even snortle, but you’ll be a little more than bored with it. The only adult oriented humor comes from Dan Fogler’s character, Gribble. He makes a few 80’s references and quick one-liners, but that’s nowhere near enough to make up for the rest of the movie.
At first glance, the trailers for MNM make it look spectacular. While Gribble and the aliens look very sharp, some of the other human characters look like aliens, themselves. That might just be because they had to make Seth Green’s face into a child’s. It turned out similar to a garden gnome. The 3D worked fairly well in this movie, keeping sight gags to a minimum and using it to immerse you in the story. I’m happy to see that 3D is becoming less of a gimmick these days. Finally, I have to question the direction of how some of the aliens looked…I’ll come back to that later, though.
The voice acting turned out to be pretty great, thank goodness. The actors were able to play their roles well, while not making it painfully obvious as to who they actually are. Aside from Joan Cusack, bless her soul, I had to wait for the credits to find out which character was voiced by which actor. I love that! I don’t want to see the actor’s face in my mind when watching an animated movie, so I enjoy it when actors use a different voice than their normal speaking voice.
The inhabitants of Mars are split by gender. The women rule the sophisticated, advanced society in a giant mecha-structure above the planet’s surface; the men inhabit the completely trashed planet surface below, living in tribes. Now, here comes my big question about MNM. I don’t want to be one of “those people”, always pointing fingers at evil and injustice, but there seemed to be some troubling themes in this movie. First, all of the human characters were white. Usually, not a big deal. It’s not like that’s bad or good, just one of those things. But, the male aliens of Mars seem to be a little stereotypical. They all wear tribal paint, mainly yellow, black, green and red. They also have dreadlocks, larger lips and are projected as being idiots. I’m not trying to jump to conclusions, but it seemed like they made these aliens have very African traits. Now, it’s not a big deal to have a character like that, but through the entire movie, the other characters talk about how stupid the men are. Is it just me, or did it seem like this movie had a tiny, minuscule bit of racism to it? I don’t know, maybe I should just drop the whole subject before the Disney Gestapo grabs me. Please, feel free to comment on if you agree or disagree with the questionable overtones.
I can’t really say that I enjoyed MNM, but it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever sat through. You could really sum it up to a friend by shrugging your shoulders and saying, “Meh”. It’s unlikely that the parents going with their kids will get much out of it, but I have to say that there is a fascinating clip of behind-the-scenes during the credits. Sadly, that clip was my favorite part of the movie. Kids will have fun with the pretty visuals, funny aliens and pretty colors; parents will have fun pretending to be somewhere else while the movie plays.
I give Mars Needs Moms 3 “Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wife” out of 5
By Blake Edwards