Mars Needs Moms Is On its Way To Being One of the Biggest Flops In History
And That's Terrible
Disney spent $175 million on Mars Needs Moms, and has so far recouped… $24 million. The blockbuster motion capture computer animated flick based on the kids book of the same name is “on track to become one of the biggest box-office bombs in movie history, on par with such washouts as ‘The Adventures of Pluto Nash,’ ‘Cutthroat Island’ and ‘The Alamo.'”
The New York Times‘ Brooks Barnes attributes this to Robert Zemeckis‘ still-firmly-in-the-Uncanny-Valley motion capture techniques, which were unsettling in Polar Express and apparently have not much improved; an over saturation of computer animated family fare at the box office; and general bad writing. But we have one more possible reason to add, which I guess is sort of related to bad writing:
Mars Needs Moms implicitly states that non-standard families don’t work.
We noticed Something Awful’s review a couple weeks ago, and read through it thinking “What really? I knew the movie was called Mars Needs Moms, but… Oh. Wow, that seems… yeah. Sheesh.”
The reason Mars actually needs moms is that all the female martians are busy being leaders, soldiers and politicians. Because of this, they are apparently terrible mothers, because no woman can be in a position of power and possess maternal instincts. (There’s a nanny-bot and some memory-erasing/murder of humans involved, but it’s weird and boring and overall basically unimportant.) The men are no help, because they all live in a huddle together painting themselves in bright flamboyant colors and dancing and hugging all the time. (Seriously.) The men all live together because the women are led by an old angry lady who believes that women are stronger, and we should do away with all men… I kept thinking that I was reading too much into the film (impossible), but when Ke tells the Martians that they were meant to be raised by two parents, because that’s the only way to feel love, I was convinced. And angered.
It’s not often in this line of work that I get to write pieces that really matter, so I want to make the most of this. Mars Needs Moms isn’t just offensive to gays, it’s offensive to anyone who has a non-structuralist family. The overall message of the film is “Unless you’re raised by one Mom AND one Dad, then you’re wrong.” Single parent? Wrong. Living with other relatives? Wrong. The film even makes sure we know that Milo has a Dad, though he serves no purpose other than letting us know Milo is in a “proper family.” Hell, there’s even an inter-species romance between Gribble and Ke, because apparently that’s okay, as long as it’s not gay.
So, yeah. Lilo and Stitch this ain’t. There isn’t much academic reason to read into movies that are just bad, regardless of their between-the-lines content. But when the message that is in between those lines is so blatant… well, it certainly makes it look like the people who put the lines together weren’t really paying attention.
On the other hand, somebody once told me that The Adventures of Pluto Nash wasn’t half bad.