Why Mars Needs Moms was made is a sobering one. Sadly the answer isn’t about the story or a message that is being told to children Most of the beginning of this film is very realistic (or close enough) humans talking to each other. Even when they get aboard a spaceship, a big question in my mind was why was this animated?
If it wasn’t animated, then there is no movie. It’s an opportunity to play with big expensive toys. This is the evolving technology that helped create films like The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol. It’s exciting to see animation get better and better, but it’s a colossal waste of money for such a lame movie.
Milo is an average boy living in the Midwest. He doesn’t like broccoli, he jumps on the bed, all of those clichés. One night when his mom sends him to bed early before he can watch his zombie film. He tells her that he wishes he didn’t have a mom. Hours later, he couldn’t sleep and he feels bad so he wants to apologize to his mom and show how much he loves her.
Before he can get to her room, Martians have kidnapped her. It turns out that Martians regularly kidnap Midwestern mothers to have them train their robots to raise their Martian babies. Whatever. Milo climbs aboard and is now on a mission to save his mom.
He meets up Gribble, a child from the 80s who also lost a mom so many years ago. That means he will constantly speak in clichéd references from the 80s all the time. Oddly enough his Peter Pan/Lost Boys lifestyle of constant video games and freedom doesn’t allure Milo, but just gets in his way. Eventually they team up with a Martian named Ki who learned English by watching a hippie TV show from the 60s. This means she will constantly speak in clichéd references from the 60s all the time.
The forward momentum is all over the place for this film. They go to the ship then they go to Gribble’s house and then they go to the ship and then they go to Gribble’s house and then they go to the ship, etc. The quest itself seems rather annoying because our hero only whines the entire film and it’s not like he’s learning a lesson through this galactic adventure; he realized he loved his mom before she was even in danger.
The adventure isn’t fun. When the three characters aren’t speaking in references clichés, they’re speaking in sci-fi clichés. For Milo, obviously, needs to teach the Martians about compassion and hugging which leads to groan-worthy dialog like “What is…love?”
Back in the 60s, Disney made a whole bunch of cheesy but likable live action films. Stuff like That Darn Cat or The Computer That Wore Tennis Shoes. They weren’t great, but they were something the whole family could watch. That’s what Mars Needs Moms feels like but instead it cost too many tens of millions of dollars. The most entertaining part of the movie was the credits that showed how they filmed all of the scenes with all of their equipment. After seeing the cool aspects of the equipment, it’s depressing realizing that was more fascinating and awe-inspiring than a boy traveling into space to save his family.