The Earthbound portion of the story is set in Anywhere, USA. Little Milo (Seth Green) doesn’t like taking out the garbage. When his mom gives him a firm, but effective talking to, she unwittingly becomes a Martian overlord’s first choice as the model mom for the nanny bots that raise that planet’s young’uns. When she is abducted Milo hitches a ride, determined to rescue his mom from the alien invaders.
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Richard Crouse: Mark, I think WALL-E is the pinnacle of science fiction for kids, but after seeing Mars Needs Moms ... I still feel that way. It’s not really sci-fi anyway, it’s more action-adventure in zero gravity, and a pretty good one, but despite some good animation it didn’t feel memorable to me. What did you think?
Mark Breslin: Well, Richard, I dreaded seeing it. To fully appreciate this picture, you have to be an eight-year-old boy, and my inner child ran away from home a long time ago. But I was pleasantly surprised — and a bit angry. The poster and title indicate that that the movie is a comedy for little kids. But it’s not. Parents of very young children should be aware that it is an action-adventure, as you say, with themes about kidnapping and abandonment, and some scary chase scenes.
RC: I, too, dreaded having to sit through this, a feeling that didn’t go away until the story really kicked in around the half-hour mark. The Earthbound portion of the movie bored me silly but once the movie hits Mars it perks up. The female Martians look like E.T.’s younger sisters and the animation is terrific. I think it will appeal to eight- or nine-year-olds, but as you say, anyone younger than that might find it a bit intense.
MB: I got into it as well. But I must say the animation unnerved me. It’s getting to the point where the human characters looked creepily all too real, especially in longshot. On the other hand, it’s nice to see John Candy working again. Richard?
RC: I can only half agree with you on the animation. I thought the backgrounds on Mars were spectacular, kind of 2001 by way of Triumph of the Will and Brazil, but, for me, the character animation fluctuated. Milo’s mom had a not quite human feel about her, but Milo and his friend Gribble look amazing. And you’re right about John Candy, I couldn’t help but think that Dan Fogler’s Gribble is the part Candy would have played if this film was made in 1990.
MB: Animated movies often entertain children and their parents in different ways and on different levels, but in this movie the pop culture references of the Pixar films or of Shrek are nonexistent. But I must admit I did laugh when Gribble’s mechanical dog threw up nuts and bolts.