Mars Needs Moms
Time Out says
After years of animators riding the post-Pixar renaissance and filmgoers feasting on the fruits of their labor, we may have finally hit a collective moment of big-screen-toon fatigue. The field is so crowded now that it simply might not be possible to out-wow last week’s big 3D pop-culture-quoting animated film, or the one from the week before that, or the month before that. Not that these movies aren’t trying their damnedest to impress your eyeballs, even if—like this busy adaptation of Berkeley Breathed’s children’s book—they end up sacrificing a few things like savviness or storytelling in the process.
You certainly can’t fault this Disney movie—about a boy (Green) who travels to the Red Planet to rescue his mom (Cusack) from maternally concerned aliens—for its visuals: The interiors of the Martian ship look like an iPod turned inside out. Several vertiginous plunges down an elevator shaft and into a mammoth flaming junkyard are vivid enough to make you lose your Happy Meal. The lair of a perpetually adolescent tech-geek (Fogler) is a Casa Batlló of rusty bric-a-brac; don’t even get us started on the hat-tips to Star Wars, Spider-Man and Halo that will have 12-year-old boys drooling.
But after the novelty of these backgrounds and comin’-at-ya bits wears off, Mars Needs Moms has to rely on Fogler’s obnoxious Jack Black Jr. shtick, a weak subplot involving a ’60s-obsessed Martian graffiti artist (Harnois) and rote video-game-y action sequences to carry it along—and that simply won’t cut it. You can credit Disney for keeping the book’s harrowing climax intact, in which the story’s abandonment issues finally come to a head, but other than that, there’s little to distinguish this from every other sci-fi-flavored kid flick of the last five years.
Cast and crew
Billy Dee Williams