Mars Need Moms (2011)

Rated PG. V-4; L -0; S/N -2. Running time: 1 hour 28 min.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this
is right. “Honor your father and mother” —this is
the first commandment with a promise: “so that it
may be well with you and you may live long on
the earth.”
Ephesians 6:1-3

Milo. Mom and Gribble in peril on Mars surface.

2011 Walt Disney Pictures

This super expensive film, said to cost $150 million, was such a flop at the box office that it quickly moved on to cheap seat theaters, which is where I caught up with it. A motion-capture animated film, it deserves a better fate than it has received thus far.

There are two touching scenes, the first at the beginning of the film, and the second near the end, when Mom does what moms do. In between there is a lot of frenetic action that takes place beneath the surface of Mars where a matriarchal society periodically kidnaps a child-disciplining mom from Earth in order to transfer her discipline from her mind to the programs of the robots that raise Martian children.

In the opening segment Mom (Joan Cusack) is constantly riding Milo (Seth Green) to do his chores, and the kid not only resists, but also sasses her back. Put to bed without his usual TV (worse than being deprived of his supper because it included broccoli), he retorts that he’d be better off without her. As she closes his bedroom door her hurt, crest-fallen face touches his conscience better than any angry words could. Later, when he goes to apologize to her, he discovers that aliens have captured and loaded her aboard their spaceship. Before the ship blasts off, Milo manages to stowaway, and when it reaches Mars and enters the subsurface world, the boy sneaks off, eventually encountering Ki (Elisabeth Harnois), a Martian who has watched episodes of a Hippy-era Earth TV show, and thus speaks a strange form of English. Also there is Gribble (Dan Fogler), once in Milo’s position, arriving in the 1980s and witnessing the death of his mother when she was hooked up to the robot programs for transferring her disciplining skills to the machines.

By no means a very good film, it is better than many of the so-called comedies currently showing, including Your Highness. It is not revealing much to report that alls well that ends well, with young Milo gaining a new appreciation of the mother he had rejected as a nag.