Thursday, 16 June 2011

Film Review: Mars Needs Moms

Disney has had mixed results when it comes to its CGI films. When Pixar are involved, the general rule of thumb is that it will be awesome. However, when Disney go through their own Walt Disney Animation Studios, the outcome usually leaves a little to be desired. Mars Needs Moms is a child of the latter, and unfortunately to say, you get what has come to be expected from Disney's in-house production studios.

Mars is in crisis. The red planet faces a shortage of mothers and so, the martians scour Earth for Mums (Moms if you're a yank) matching a certain criteria to bring up their planet's young. When serial whinger Milo's (Green) mother (Cusack) is identified as such, she is abducted and taken back to Mars. Stowing away on the spacecraft to retrieve her, Milo arrives to find fellow human, Gribble (Fogler), whose mother suffered a similar fate.

Mars Needs Moms moral is simple; don't take your mother for granted, and never claim that your life would be better without her. The fifth commandment, then. What should be an entertaining family sci-fi never really achieves lift-off as it remains flat and uninvolving. The setting will undoubtedly invite opprobrious comparisons to the likes of WALL⋅E, but the most stark contrast will be the discernable lack of soul.

This would ordinarily be what characters bring to a film, but there's none of it here. Bratty Milo invariably urges pangs to take off one's belt while tumultuous Gribble is just fucking annoying. There is one amusing quip about Ronald Reagan's 'secronauts' and their mission to thwart interplanetary communism, but Gribble remains fat and irritating. The film's super villain, ominously titled 'The Supervisor', is also lacking. We are never given the reasons behind her motives and all we are left with is an impression that she's just a bat-shit crazy feminist. (Yes, apparently the feminist movement made it to Mars).

It is perhaps quite fitting that director Simon Wells, H.G. Wells' great-grandson, should return to Mars, but Mars Needs Moms lack of characterisation and predictable plot makes it ultimately meaningless. Admittedly there is one rather touching moment near the end, but it's not enough to save a film which is at best innocuous.