I think “WALL-E” is the pinnacle of science fiction for kids but after seeing “Mars Needs Moms”… I still feel that way. It’s not really sci fi anyway; it’s more action-adventure in zero gravity, with voice work by “Robot Chicken” guys Seth Green and Dan Fogler.
The earthbound portion of the story is set in Anywhere, USA. Little Milo (voice of Seth Green) doesn’t like taking out the garbage. When his mom (Joan Cusack) gives him a firm, but effective talking to, she unwittingly becomes a Martian overlord’s first choice as the model mom for the nanny bots that raise that planet’s young’uns. When she is abducted Milo hitches a ride, determined to rescue his mom from the alien invaders.
The surburban part of “Mars Needs Moms” bored me silly but once the movie hits Mars it perks up. Milo stops being a whiny kid, the action kicks in, the female Martians look like ET’s younger sisters and the Mars background animation is spectacular, kind of “2001” by way of “Triumph of the Will” and “Brazil.” Too bad the character animation isn’t as consistent. Milo’s mom has a-not-quite-human feel about her, and there’s some fluxuation in Milo and his friend Gribble but for the most part look amazing.
“Mars Needs Moms” is standard Disney. It’s a well made piece of family entertainment—it should appeal to eight and nine year olds, but anyone younger than that might find it a bit intense—with some action and good messages for kids about family and friendship. And even though it’s probably the first Disney movie to feature a purple nurple, it doesn’t strive to be anything more or less than standard.