Sometimes it feels like it’s another weekend, another family flick. Well in this case it happens to be too true. Unfortunately, this weekend’s family feature comes from the same production house as the dreadful Polar Express, Beowulf and Disney’s A Christmas Carol. With only one great movie under their belt (Monster House), it’s high time for ImageMovers to move along now, there’s still nothing to see here folks for as much as Mars Needs Moms, we don’t need this film.
It must be tough coming up with the next great idea when it comes to family features. But then again, Pixar has been hitting them out of the park with only one true floater (Cars) out of eleven feature length films. While I’m still trying to give this summer’s Cars 2 the benefit of the doubt, all of its advertising is making me think it’s going to be a sad year for Disney and its 2011 brand of so-called “entertainment.” After Mars Needs Moms and Gnomeo and Juliet (released under their Touchstone Pictures banner against every ounce of John Lasseter’s being and for good reason) and maybe even Cars 2, it’s just furthering proof that this will be the year for Paramount Pictures to grab the coveted gold-plated naked man next year for their brilliant Rango, or maybe even Kung Fu Panda 2? Meanwhile, we’ll just have to bide our time until 2012 finally brings us Pixar’s return to form with Monsters, Inc. 2.
In Mars Needs Moms, we find out that Mars has been watching us from deep within their underground lairs. (Why Mars’ aliens are not adapted to their own planet’s atmosphere is never explained which is just one of way too many plot holes to bother with.) Every 25 years new batches of “hatchlings” are born and their nanny bots need a software update. This go around they’ve aimed their tractor beams on Mom (voiced by Joan Cusack), mother of Milo (motion captured and acted by Seth Green while voiced by Seth Robert Dusky).
Accidentally stowing away on the ship ride back to Mars, now Milo has to find his mom before her memories are erased and she’s obliterated to a swirling dust cloud just like Gribble’s (voiced by Dan Fogler) mom was 25 years earlier right before his very eyes. Along with the help of a ‘60s hippy speaking resident alien Ki (voiced by Elisabeth Harnois) and her Kim Kardashian rear end/equestrian-love-child good looks must save Mom and give the evil Supervisor (voiced by Mindy Sterling) a serious attitude adjustment.
The biggest problem with Mars Needs Moms is that it’s so. damn. boring! While seeming to be tailored made as a big action adventure for twelve year old boys who need it pounded into their heads that they must love their moms, it’s not very subtle about its message. Every five minutes it seems like Milo is on another diatribe about why everyone needs a mom (at the beginning of the film all Milo wants is his Dad (voiced by Tom Everett Scott) who is also super creepy as a motion capture creation by the way) to come home from a business trip to take him to a movie. Meanwhile he’s refusing to eat his broccoli, jumping on his bed instead of going to sleep and telling his Mom that he’d be better off if he didn’t have a mom. See what I mean?
And let’s not even begin on how creepy these motion capture humans are getting. While the technology seems to be getting better with each film, it’s getting further and further behind when it comes to replicating people. It’s an animated film to begin with, why can’t the human characters be computer animated as well. Pixar and DreamWorks fully understand this concept; it’s beyond me why producer Robert Zemeckis can’t get the hint. When every character looks like the offspring of Gollum, they’re never going to score empathy in their plights. Surprisingly, the least intrusive aspect of the whole production is the 3-D. If you’re going to bother purchasing a ticket (even if you should be going to see Rango either again or for the first time) the price just may be worth paying for a matinee IMAX 3D presentation. It’s far better than the waste of money that is both RealD 3D and the worst offender, Dolby 3D.
No matter how you look at it, director Simon Wells (who brought us the far superior films An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, We’re Back: A Dinosaur’s Story, Balto and even The Prince of Egypt) should have just simply gone all out and made this a live action feature film. But then again, maybe it’s Zemeckis’ inherent sense of putting children in peril every fifteen minutes that would have fared even scarier in live action that held back that chance. Either way you look at it, it’s another day another dollar for the Mouse House and while this film does not deserve to be seen, we all know you’re all going to waste your time and money on it anyhow. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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