The latest 3-D adventure shepherded by special-effects producer Robert Zemeckis suffers from the same technical problems that have fatally wounded his recent animated projects Beowulf and A Christmas Carol: the dead eyes. Motion capture has revolutionized the movement of animated characters and involved voice actors in entirely new ways in the creation of more full-bodied performances, but it still fails to invest the eyes with souls, although that hasn’t stopped Zemeckis and other filmmakers from trying to crack the code.
In Mars Needs Moms, co-writer/director Simon Wells takes his best shot it and can’t quite overcome the hurdle either, but in this case, he gets a reprieve thanks to his reliance on the fundamentals of story.
This wild and wooly adventure follows Milo (voiced by Seth Green), a typical kid who hates following his mother’s rules until she (Joan Cusack) is kidnapped by Martians and strapped into a machine that will turn her into a robotic den mothers for Martian kids.
Of course, it’s up to Milo and a couple of new friends to save the day, while also coming to realize just how important parents truly are. It sounds simple (and it is), but Mars Needs Moms is the kind of movie that parents need every once in a while to remind their kids of what’s really important in life (love and respect rather than Facebook and the Wii). And that message is even powerful enough to offset the dreaded dead eyes, but Zemeckis and crew need to go back to the drawing board once again. Grade: B