‘Mars Needs Moms’ Like a Hole in the Head

Christine Gillette

It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that Disney spent more than $175 million on “Mars Needs Moms” and made only $7 million on opening weekend or that Disney just released a sexist movie. For the sake of the children viewers of the film, I’ll side with the latter.

At first the storyline seems heart-warming and sweet. A young boy named Milo hops on a spacecraft to try and rescue his mom after Martians abduct her. She’s abducted because the mothers of Mars no longer understand how to tend to children since they are the ones in power. Instead they take mothers from Earth who seem to know how to control their children and take their memories. They then insert the mothers’ memories inside “Nannybots,” robots the mothers of Mars created to raise the girls of Mars. Once they extract the memories, the mother from Earth loses her memories.

Sad, right?

What is sadder is the stereotypical idea of what a mother is supposed to do here on Earth and the message director Simon Wells and Disney is telling young girls across the world.

When Milo, played by Seth Green (“Old Dogs,” 2009), first lands on Mars he tries to describe to other Martians what a mom is. He describes her as the one who washes his clothes, feeds him, and vacuums the house. It’s almost as if Disney has a flashback of the 1950s stereotypical housewife and tries to recreate that in an animated film.

Once on Mars, Milo meets his fellow earthling friend Gribble, voiced by Dan Fogler (“Love Happens,” 2009), who explains to Milo that “Nannybots” are built because Martians are terrible at mothering but good at building robots. Since they lost the ability to love and nurture, they import that one missing chip into the robots to sustain the Martian race.

Is this meant to suggest that mothers cannot take on raising a family while maintaining a successful
working life?

The family angle of the film is evident, but the underlying message is just too obvious: Women who are in power, whether in politics or business, will lose their maternal instincts, which is an argument that fuels the feminism fire. Does Disney really want little girls to grow up believing that we should be living in a patriarchal society?

Let’s not forget the male Martians! They are depicted as affection-starved who are abandoned at birth and left to live on the garbage level of their civilization.

Besides the horrendous message that this movie delivers, there are some holes in the storyline.

Mars is controlled by an old totalitarian voiced by Mindy Sterling (“Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” 1999), who thinks she can sustain order and discipline by protecting herself and her fellow Martians from feelings, like the love and nurturing that a mother is supposed to provide.

If they program the robots with the memories from mothers of Earth, like Milo’s mom, voiced by Joan Cusack (“My Sister’s Keeper,” 2009), wouldn’t they also have memories that showed them to be loving and caring as well?

Milo’s mom is a stern mother who proves able to negotiate with Milo on things, such as finishing his broccoli so he could watch a show he really wants to see on pay-per-view.

It also seems that the married writers, Simon and Wendy Wells, didn’t even attempt to make this movie scientifically correct. The only thing that protects the human characters are helmets and they hopped around Mars’ surface in human street clothes.

The sci-fi aspect is OK. It’s a movie for kids that has good 3-D effects, and children won’t write reviews about the bad science behind the film.

Producer of the film, Robert Zemeckis, is an acclaimed professional in the entertainment industry. He won an Academy Award for directing “Forrest Gump,” directed the “Back to the Future” film series and the movie “Contact,” and the list goes on. Unfortunately, Zemeckis must be doing some major thumb twiddling right now.

Disney has already shut down his digital film studio Image Movers Digital, and then terminated production of his version of the 1968 Beatles cartoon “Yellow Submarine” after the disappointing opening weekend of this film.

For those planning on babysitting this weekend and want to go take the little one to see “Mars Needs Moms,” you’d be better off saving your money by just popping in “Back to the Future.”

“Mars Needs Moms,” is rated PG for sci-fi action sequences and peril. The run time is 88 minutes.

Overall: 2 out of 5 stars