Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Movie Doctor: Mars Needs Moms

[The Movie Doctor is my attempt to review movies, not by criticizing them, but by saying how they should have been made differently.  I attempt to keep these low on the spoiler scale.]

I just saw the movie Mars Needs Moms over the weekend.  I hated it pretty thoroughly (except for one poignant moment near the end, which I won’t spoil).  My children hated it, and one even ran out of the room.  So, imagine as you read this that I’m pulling on a long pair of surgical gloves and telling the director to bend over.
"This will hurt you a lot more than it will hurt me."
Symptoms: The movie Mars Needs Moms is scary, mean, and creepy.  The characters are unlikable, the artistic style disturbing, and the plot is insipid.  In short, this movie is the cinematic equivalent of the Republican debates.
Okay, the movie was a little less disturbing.
Diagnosis: The movie was based on the children’s book of the same name.  In the book, Martians kidnap the main character’s mother to take care of them like she does for him.  The book was cute, funny, and moving, but the movie decided to go with a more suspense/action storyline because everyone loves it when you adapt a book by throwing it away.
I assume the producers never met their mothers.
The Martians live in a dystopian society, and they kill the mothers they kidnap.  Much of the movie is filled with chase scenes, executions, and falls off of great heights to certain death (four times!).  Maybe I’m being too harsh; I mean, we all know how much kids love a good execution scene.
Then again, this is the guy they execute.
Visually, there’s a problem with the uncanny valley.  The humans all look creepy and the Martians all look like those cannibalistic aliens from Galaxy Quest.
"We're supposed to be cute and cuddly!"
Treatment: Respect the source material for crying out loud!

The book is about the strong bond between mother and child; go with that.  Show us the main character being a brat.  After his mom is abducted, show us his life with his mother gone (he enjoys it for a while, but then misses her).  Have him meet a network of kids of abducted moms who have a rocket that he steals to go get her back.  Then you can do the whole crazy running around, shooty, bang-bang, falling off a cliff stuff.

Remember, this is a story for kids; make the characters more cartoony.  There’s a reason why Pixar makes sure their characters look like cartoons and why everything from Dreamworks gives me nightmares.
"Give him a Scottish accent!  That'll work!"
Got it?  Good.  You can pick up the prescription at your local pharmacy.

No comments: