Movie Review: Mars Needs Moms
I don’t even know where to start with this review except that I have rarely been so upset while watching a movie. I wish I could say that there were no women involved in the making of it, but obviously there were, behind the scenes as well in front, including my beloved Joan Cusak.
Nevertheless, I’m going to place the blame for this one square at the feet of Producer Robert Zemeckis and writer/director Simon Wells. Let’s leave Berkeley Breathed (famous for the Bloom County cartoons in the 1980s), whose book of the same title was the nominal basis of this movie, out of it, as from what I can tell, the objectionable parts were superimposed onto his original story.
So by now you’re probably wondering what I’m blathering on about. Young Milo is having a typically bratty 9-year-old evening and, in a moment of anger, blurts out a hateful sentiment to his mother (Joan Cusak) that he doesn’t really mean. In the middle of the night he wakes up to apologize, just in time to see her abducted by a spaceship. Running out to save her, he gets accidentally stowed aboard himself.
The ship’s destination is the planet Mars, which, despite that other book’s title (Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus) is controlled and populated entirely by females. If you can imagine such a terrible thing. Because, of course, a planet controlled by women is a grim, colorless police state where the very word “love” is unknown, let alone its meaning.
The storm troopers of Mars are young nubile women with the kind of exaggerated waist-hip ratio the corsets and bustles of Victorian times were attempting to suggest. They are ruled over by withered old crones, the oldest and most hideous of whom is The Supervisor (Mindy Sterling, best known as Frau Farbissina, Dr. Evil’s associate in the Austin Powers series).
I’m going to skip the rest of the infuriating plot summary, because, believe me, it’s not worth your time. While rampant and unabashed misogyny accounts for 80% of this film’s offenses, it’s not alone. There’s also jaw-dropping racism, in the form of a dread-locked, war-painted, “stupid” (the movie’s label) tribe that lives amidst trash heaps underground. These apelike creatures are the males of the planet, banished from the real world above. But simpleminded as they are (they grunt for communication and can understand only pantomime), they are happy and friendly, and boy, can they dance! It’s a racial cariacature that makes Jar Jar Binks look positively enlightened by comparison.
Anyway, this is all just the start. It gets worse from there, never for a minute redeeming itself. But I’ll mention that Dan Fogler gives an energetic performance, although his character and his character’s storyline is inappropriate for any child under 10 or 12 to see. My 6 year old was traumatized and my 4 year old said it was far too scary—not because of any violence or suspense, but because of the idea of losing one’s mother. I totally agree, and feel horrible that my children saw a single minute of this movie.