Mars Needs Moms
(PG) Disney DVD
It is a testament to how little Disney thought of this film that they didn’t even bother to change the name of it for the Australian market; so it retains the “Moms” of the title.
There’s no getting around the fact that this animated film tanked at the box office. But, in a year when many of the animated films were sequels, it is disappointing such an original film hardly registered.
Many factors have contributed to its disappearing quickly to the shelves of the local rental shop. Firstly, it is directed by Robert Zemekis, who, try as he might, cannot crack the look of animated humans in his films.
It began with Polar Express and continued with Beowulf and the recent A Christmas Carol. Using motion capture technology, live actors are filmed and then turned into animated doubles. Zemekis has never been able to overcome the “dead eye” look of the characters — rendering them a little creepy and doll-like.
This is especially off-putting in a children’s film like Mars Needs Moms, where the Martians garner more sympathy than the humans.
The film is based on a best-selling book. You see, Martians, as the story posits, long since abandoned the idea of families and as each new Martian is born they are assigned a “nanny-bot”.
The nanny-bots are devoid of the skills needed to look after children, so the Martians have been abducting Earth mums, extracting their parental abilities and assigning them to the nanny-bots.
On Earth, Milo’s mum is kidnapped and Milo inadvertently hitches a ride on the space craft to Mars, where he then must save her from memory-wiping and losing her altogether.
What follows is 84 minutes of high-concept special effects (it was also shot in 3D) and a storyline that has the preservation of family as its theme.
This reviewer’s children have now watched the film three times and thoroughly enjoyed it enough to recommend to their friends.
A third-act emotional message brings the film home with the usual Disney fanfare. It’s just a mystery why the film couldn’t find an audience.