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Mars Needs Moms

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Mars Needs Moms

Directed by Simon Wells

Opens March 11

ImageMovers’ newest animated movie has its heart in the right place, and thankfully for those who dig the new fad of being given snazzy glasses upon entering the theater, its heart comes through in Disney Digital 3D. Mars Needs Moms relies on our emotional connection to 9-year-old Milo (voiced by Seth Green), a little boy desperately trying to save his mother and tell her that he loves her. Considering that said tyke has to run around a foreign planet, dodge lasers, and infiltrate the security of a colony of militaristic Martians, you’ll end up smiling a few times whether you like it or not. But only a few times.

Moms opens with harvest season on Mars. The babies are sprouting. A wrinkly tyrant (voiced by Mindy Sterling) uses a program that looks like Google Earth to find a candidate to raise the little furry creatures and chooses Milo’s mother (voiced by Joan Cusack) for her discipline abilities. The plan is to program the “nannybots” with her parenting skills, and Milo has a few hours to stop this from happening or he’ll never see her again.

Lucky for Milo, he can enlist the help of ADD tech nerd Gribble (voiced by Dan Folger) and hippie graffiti artist Martian Ki (voiced by Elisabeth Harnois). They embark on a rescue mission, and while the animation itself is entertaining, the undercurrent themes of developing friendship, loyalty, and love were better explored by the fish in Finding Nemo. Moms’ chase scenes are well played and Milo’s determination is charming, but much of the movie seems drawn out and lackluster. As expected, there are some clever cultural references en route, such as when Ki is totally into the “turn on, tune in, and drop out” thing and when Milo sees the elderly supervisor and quips that “Mars needs Botox.”

Eventually you meet the men of Mars, who are apparently all Rastafarians who have been sent to live in the garbage land below the surface where they, well, dance and raise the boy babies. Men stuck in the trash while women run the place? Interesting concept. And, eventually, Milo has some four-word monologues that show how much a boy cares about his mother. Though it provides a few grins and some moments of that warm-and-fuzzy feeling, we’re left thinking that Mars is lacking style and substance as well as maternity.

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