Friday, December 9, 2011

Mars Needs Moms

Directed by Simon Wells.
2011. Rated PG, 88 minutes.
Seth Green
Dan Fogler
Joan Cusack
Elisabeth Harnois
Mindy Sterling
Kevin Cahoon
Tom Everett Scott
Jacquie Barnbrook

Aparently, Martians know nothing about raising their young. From time to time they come to Earth to get the knowledge they need. No, no, no they don’t enroll in a parenting class or anything like that. They abduct a human mom, fly her back to Mars, extract whatever they deem necessary to mothering directly from her brain and then discard her. Yeesh. That information is downloaded to the Nannybots who do the mothering. This time they’ve snatched Milo’s (Green) mom. He manages to get on board their ship as it is leaving and soon finds himself on the red planet. Once there, he has to figure out how to save his mother.

As it turns out, Mars is a desolate, militaristic place. Like any such place in the movies, there are underground factions of rebels. Most of the ones we see are content to go about splashing color across their largely monochromatic world. One who is not a rebel, but certainly a loner becomes Milo’s most important ally. His name is Gribble (Fogler) and he is human. He’s also an adult but hasn’t had any human interaction since he was but a young boy himself. He still has a child’s rambunctiousness. With these things in place, Milo sets out on his adventure.

Our hero’s adventure is a fun one that manages to slip in a few messages along the way. Chief among them is just how important moms actually are. Like the others, this is done in a way that doesn’t feel like we’re being bludgeoned by them. To this end, things are kept fairly light-hearted until near the end when we really do get a palpable sense of danger. The daring rescue attempt manages to grab us by our throats and pull us to the edge of our seats. It takes the darkness that was harmlessly lingering just beneath the surface and brings it to the forefront. In the grand scheme of things, it’s only a few minutes of screen time. However, it’s a few minutes that drives home the message and ultimately makes the payoff more satisfying.

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