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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Mars Needs Moms

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


The characters Gribble and Milo are pictured in a scene from the movie "Mars Needs Moms."
Vivid animation and a ringing endorsement of the traditional family combine to make the endearing adventure "Mars Needs Moms" (Disney) a film kids can enjoy and parents will appreciate.

But, though suitable for all (a few mild potty jokes aside), director and co-writer Simon Wells' technically accomplished screen version of Berkeley Breathed's children's book sees its characters running a long gauntlet of dangers, and so may prove too scary for the most sensitive.

With its cartoon images based on the live-action motions of its cast—as we're shown during the closing credits—this is the visually rich tale of Milo (Seth Green), a typical 9-year-old boy who is destined to have some very unusual experiences.

A fan of zombie movies, but not of broccoli or taking out the garbage, Milo has a run-in in the opening scenes with his loving but no-nonsense Mom (Joan Cusack)—Dad (Tom Everett Scott) is away on a business trip—and drives her to tears by hastily remarking that he'd be better off without her.

Milo's ill-considered theory unexpectedly gets put to the test later that night when a crew of Martians arrives and kidnaps Mom. Stowing away on their rocker, Milo too is transported to the Red Planet.

Once there, Milo learns that the aliens—led by Mindy Sterling as a prune-faced villainess called The Supervisor—have developed a procedure for extracting the nurturing qualities of particularly effective human mothers and transplanting them into the otherwise clueless nanny-bots who have charge of their own young. He also discovers that the process, if completed, will cost Mom her life.

Milo's rescue efforts are aided by Gribble (Dan Fogler), a goofy but good-hearted human fugitive who first came to Mars when his mom was abducted for the same purpose, and by Ki (Elisabeth Harnois), a free-spirited Martian rebel whose protests against the system take the form of bright psychedelic graffiti.

As our heroes fight the emotionless, authoritarian matriarchy that now prevails on Mars—boy babies are sent to a male underworld at birth and even the girls who remain above are raised entirely by the robots and have no ties to either of their parents—the trio uncovers evidence that affectionate nuclear families like Milo's were once the norm there.

Wells' script—penned in collaboration with wife Wendy Wells—clearly affirms that this older model of society is a far preferable one, based as it is on what Milo calls "the love thing." And, inevitably, the crusade to save Mom merges with the struggle to restore Martian familial bonds.

Bolstered by this welcome celebration of venerable values, and free of any genuinely objectionable material, "Mars Needs Moms" can be warmly recommended for all but easily frightened small fry. For them, the 3D-enhanced sight of Milo dangling off a cliff or, in a later scene, gasping for air when accidentally exposed to the hostile atmosphere on Mars might be much too intense.

The film contains considerable peril and a bit of light scatological humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988.</p> American Catholic Blog God is great. God is good. And God, in his fatherly love, has a plan for our lives that will work out for our benefit and salvation. All we have to do is trust and obey.

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CATHOLIC GREETINGS
Blessed Junipero Serra
This Franciscan friar was instrumental in founding many of California’s mission churches.

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Sts. Peter and Paul
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Wedding
Help the bride and groom see their love as a mirror of God’s love.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help
God gave Mary to us as a help in our quest for holiness.




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