Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Genre: Animated, SciFi/Fantasy
Opens locally Friday, March 11th, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour, 28 minutes, Rated PG
Starring (voice & motion-capture): Seth Green, Dan Fogler, Mindy Sterling, Joan Cusack
Directed by Simon Wells (Balto, The Prince of Egypt, The Time Machine)
Animated films aimed at kids are a tricky topic: I mean, kids will watch Baby Einstein, or any other slew of mindless "entertainment" on TV. It's one thing to plop your child down in front of the television, as some of these types of shows (Baby Einstein again for example), are educational and helpful in the growth of a young mind. But in a children's movie, a different level of entertainment is required, since the parent must sit through the movie alongside their child in the theatre. So with that in mind, there is a wide spectrum of "kids movies" that are thrown at us. On one hand, you get great family movies that include humor for kids and adults alike (think Lion King, The Little Mermaid, or more recently Tangled), that not only keep us entertained but include valuable lessons important for children to learn and for adults to remember. And on the other hand, you get movies like "Mars Needs Moms", a painfully unfunny and unimportant "family film" completely void of any redeeming life lessons. It will likely make you wish you had been abducted by aliens on the way into the theatre.
The Plot. The movie's star is 9 year old Milo, who complains about his mom who is always nagging him to do things like take out the trash or do his homework. She's targeted by a Martian society helmed by an old grandmother-alien, who looks like a cross between Joan Rivers and E.T. You see, Mars has a problem and needs to gather up as many "good" mothers as they can in order to basically suck their brains dry, to implant in these mom-bots that....just nevermind. Milo sneaks on to the alien ship that abducts his mom, and arrives on Mars, where he meets Gribble, a tech-savvy reject who once was a lot like Milo.
Alien Humor. We're supposed to sympathize with Gribble, and with Milo, as he realizes that his mom really loves him after all, even though she makes him eat all of his vegetables. The worst thing about kids movies, or comedies in general, is when they think they are being hilarious, when in fact each moment of supposed "comedy" falls flat. There is not one funny sequence or moment in "Mars Needs Mom" that even brought me to a half-chuckle, and most scenes brought forth a grown and a glimpse at my watch. Dan Fogler, most recently seen in "Take Me Home Tonight", I'm sure is a nice man. But he is brilliantly unfunny and cringe-inducingly bad, even in animated form. He is supposed to be the comic-relief sidekick, like a Timon and Pumbaa, but it just doesn't work.
The lessons in the film just don't come across well, and are fairly obvious anyways. Mom loves you. Dad loves you too, he just has to work late. In the end, Milo learns that his mom really does love him, and he ends up taking out the trash. If that spoiled the movie for you, consider it a favor from me to you.
To stay positive (as my family tells me), the animation in the film is quite good, and seen in 3-D IMAX a lot of it was good to look at, if you could detach yourself from the characters, story, and dialogue. Although you'll probably run out of the theatres when this one ends, if you stay for the end credits you will see how the actors' performances were motion-captured for use in the film.
Bottom Line. If you've been abducted by aliens, maybe this movie is worth watching for historical accuracy. Mars may need moms, but Hollywood needs to get a grip and stop dumbing down to us, an audience that doesn't deserve this kind of out-of-this-world awfulness.
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