I was delighted to see US movie critic Thelma Adams go after “Mars Needs Moms” for the retro sexism of its plot. As she notes in a comment following my review, she wrote on her blog about the weirdness of a movie for kids in 2011 about a planet where the females have no feelings, the children are raised by robots whose feelings are extracted from earth mothers (selected for their willingness to be disciplinarians), and the males are “dumb as a bag of rocks,” incapable of even the most rudimentary comprehension or achievement.
[H]ere’s the takeaway: the working mothers of Mars have lost their ability as women to love and nurture. They have to import an earth breeder to take care of that one chip necessary to continue the race. And the poor oppressed men, who live in substandard conditions, without a vote, without power, have been totally squelched to the detriment of Martian society.
The answer, my friends, is blowing in the hot air: The reinstitution of the nuclear family – happy mommy, happy daddy, happy baby of either sex — and the annihilation of the cranky crone. If sci fi plots allow their creators to work out real-life issues, then here we see a bunch of angry Hollywood males crying out against their feelings of emasculation with nostalgia for a reinstatement of the nuclear fifties family. Hmmm.
The weirdest part is that it just doesn’t make any sense. Forget the part about how Martian babies are produced by popping out of the ground, without any involvement by parents of any gender. How exactly does this planet work? The shrewish female leader is a totalitarian who thinks she can protect herself and the other females from feelings. So, why program the robots with the memories and views of an earth mother who may be stern but is also affectionate and supportive? What is it that all these working females do, other than march around? I am surprised that the few good reviews this movie got emphasize its lessons about family; I’m glad Milo learns to appreciate his mother, but it would have been nice to show her as capable of more than sending him to bed without television and being willing to sacrifice herself to save his life.