Who’s In It: the voices of Seth Green, Dan Fogler, Joan Cusack, Mindy Sterling, Elisabeth Harnois
The Basics: Hey kids, I’m writing the first part of this movie review just for you, so pay attention. Here’s a secret that grownups have been keeping from you for most of your short life: You’re a stubborn brat. You can’t even be bothered to take out the trash when they ask you to interrupt your important Wii activities. So this movie is about what would happen if mean aliens from Mars kidnapped your mother and what you would have to do to save her life. Now, if your mom is already mean like a Martian or a drunk or something, then this review is not for you and you can go on about your business. You deserve whatever happiness you can get. But for the rest of you…
What’s The Deal: Here’s what you have to do if you actually love your mom, dad or whatever nice adult is buying your groceries and toys—don’t make them take you to see this movie. It’ll ruin their day. You’ll have a fine time watching it because it’s a cartoon and you like cartoons and the people who made it have decided that the whole thing should look like you’re heading down a waterslide face-first, but your adult guardian will be grouchy and bored. So get that grownup to put it in their Netflix list and then, the next time they have “date night” (an event that is also totally your fault) you can watch this with the babysitter. They get paid to do that kind of thing.
Actual Moms (Or Dads) May Now Resume Reading: Though not directed by Robert Zemeckis (the evil performance-capture devotee who inflicted The Polar Express and the Jim Carrey version of A Christmas Carol on the world) he did produce it, and on top of its main crime of being unimaginative and cobbled together from chunks of other movies, it ices its fallen failure cake with that same creeped-out, dead-soul facsimile human being quality of those earlier endeavors. Take, for example, the presence of Joan Cusack as the kidnapped mom. Now imagine what would happen if you made a cartoon version of her and injected sixty pounds of Botox into her face and then let those crows from Dumbo peck out her eyes. This is what she’d look like, a person you’d run screaming from instead of traveling to Mars to save.
And Another Thing: If this is showing in a theater where they’re trying to foist that XpanD 3D on you—that’s the one with the heavy red wraparound glasses that feel like a vise on your skull—then just back away from the box office slowly. Those things darken the screen so much it’s like wearing sunglasses.
The Lone Moment Of Genuine Human Emotion: Technically this counts as a spoiler, but if you’re the kind of person who gets upset over spoilers for a movie called Mars Needs Moms, then you have other problems that are too big for me to help you with. Anyway, there’s a scene close to the end where our young hero believes that his mom is suffocating to death on Mars’s anti-oxygen atmosphere and he holds her while crying, “Don’t leave me!” It’s shocking to watch because nothing up to that point is about real people at all, but you’d have to be frozen inside not to get a little choked up over it.