Mars Needs Moms 3D (PG)

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Review byMatthew Turner8/04/2011

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 88 mins

Despite a strong opening, some impressive visuals and one or two amusing moments, this is ultimately disappointing, thanks to a poorly written script, a couple of annoying characters and some distinctly dodgy sexism in its central message; it's also likely to be too scary for young children.

What's it all about?
Directed by Simon Wells, Mars Needs Moms is based on the children's book by cartoonist Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County) and centres on nine-year-old Milo (performed by Seth Green in motion-capture with Seth Dursky's voice), whose mother (Joan Cusack) is kidnapped by Martians who want to extract her parenting skills. Stowing away on the spaceship, Milo winds up on the surface of Mars where he discovers the planet's discarded males and meets fellow human Gribble (Dan Fogel), an overgrown slacker who's been on the planet since the Reagan administration.

When Gribble reluctantly agrees to help Milo rescue his mother, the two set off to find her and receive unexpected help in the form of friendly Martian Ki (Elisabeth Harnois). But will they be in time to thwart the evil plan of the Martian Supervisor (Mindy Sterling)?

The Good
The best part of the film is the opening sequence, which features a neat reversal of the central moment of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (the mother being kidnapped by aliens instead of the child), though it's fair to say that that scene alone is likely to be too scary for small children. On top of that, the film makes good use of its 3D effects and there are some genuinely stunning visuals, particularly the Martian landscapes.

Dursky is fine as Milo, though Fogel's man-child act quickly wears thin (he's no Robin Williams) and Harnois' 60s slang spouting Ki has a similarly rapid transition from charming to annoying. As for the motion-capture animation, it's come a significant distance since the likes of A Christmas Carol and Beowulf (producer/director Robert Zemeckis also serves as producer here), but there's still something unsettling about it and you eventually find yourself wondering if the film might have worked better as a live-action adventure.

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is its poorly-written script, which skimps on action sequences and has some distinctly dodgy sexism in its central message. On top of that, there's something decidedly disturbing about a romantic relationship that develops towards the end of the film, but the less said about that the better.

Worth seeing?
Despite a handful of good moments, Mars Needs Moms is ultimately disappointing, thanks to a poorly conceived script, a general lack of action and a dodgy central message.

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Content updated: 23/10/2019 19:38

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