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H.G. Wells opened his classic story "War of the Worlds" with this line: "No one would have believed in the last years of the 19th century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own." Of course he was speaking of Mars, and in Disney's new film, "Mars Needs Moms," we discover that in the opening years of the 21st century we're still being "watched keenly and closely." Why? The title says it all.
Mars has evolved into a matriarchal society that exists under the surface of the planet -- that's why we can't see them. In this female dominated world, babies pop out of the red dirt only to be separated by gender with the girls being raised by robots and the boys being exiled to subsist in the refuge heaps. Fortunately they have only devolved into wild, fun-loving creatures.
So, where do we come in? The women of Mars are ruled by The Supervisor, a very stern dictator given voice by Mindy Sterling, who employs the startling bellow that she made famous as Frau Farbissina in the Austin Powers movies. Apparently women have lost their maternal skills and look to the moms of earth, especially those who are good at discipline. When they find the perfect woman, they transport her to the red planet. Then what happens? Nine-year-old Milo (voiced by Seth Green) thinks his mom (voiced by Joan Cusack) is pretty tough. Mars agrees, and when a spaceship lands and Milo sees mom being carried away, he becomes an inter-planetary stowaway. Once on Mars, Milo is all alone but is directed by a mysterious voice to take the plunge down a garbage chute. Thus begins his friendship with Gribble, another human who ultimately fills him in on what is going on and informs him the future of his mom is in serious jeopardy.
Eventually these two team up with a rebellious Martian girl and what results not only has the potential of saving mom but changing all of Martian society.
For kids young and old who are still dealing with what happened to Bambi's mom, get ready for a few of those moments when we learn what happened to good old Gribble. Add to that the sci-fi action and violence, and "Mars Needs Moms" delivers a PG rating. While entertaining, you don't want to apply any significant amount of logic to the tale. But, hey, it might spawn some interesting conversations with the kiddies on the way home.
The 3-D effects are fun, and don't leave when the credits roll. This is where we're taken behind the scenes and see the human actors supplying the framework for the animation. It just might be the best part.
"Mars Needs Moms" gets 2 1/2 stars.