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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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Hildegard of Bingen: 
		<p>Abbess, artist, author, composer, mystic, pharmacist, poet, preacher, theologian--where to begin describing this remarkable woman?</p>
		<p>Born into a noble family, she was instructed for ten years by the holy woman Blessed Jutta. When Hildegard was 18, she became a Benedictine nun at the Monastery of St. Disibodenberg. Ordered by her confessor to write down the visions that she'd received since the age of three, Hildegard took ten years to write her <em>Scivias</em> (<em>Know the Ways</em>). Pope Eugene III read it and in 1147 encouraged her to continue writing. Her <em>Book of the Merits of Life</em> and <em>Book of Divine Works</em> followed. She wrote over 300 letters to people who sought her advice; she also composed short works on medicine and physiology, and sought advice from contemporaries such as St. Bernard of Clairvaux.</p>
		<p>Hildegard's visions caused her to see humans as "living sparks" of God's love, coming from God as daylight comes from the sun. Sin destroyed the original harmony of creation; Christ's redeeming death and resurrection opened up new possibilities. Virtuous living reduces the estrangement from God and others that sin causes. </p>
		<p>Like all mystics, she saw the harmony of God's creation and the place of women and men in that. This unity was not apparent to many of her contemporaries. </p>
		<p>Hildegard was no stranger to controversy. The monks near her original foundation protested vigorously when she moved her monastery to Bingen, overlooking the Rhine River. She confronted Emperor Frederick Barbarossa for supporting at least three antipopes. Hildegard challenged the Cathars, who rejected the Catholic Church claiming to follow a more pure Christianity.</p>
		<p>Between 1152 and 1162, Hildegard often preached in the Rhineland. Her monastery was placed under interdict because she had permitted the burial of a young man who had been excommunicated. She insisted that he had been reconciled with the Church and had received its sacraments before dying. Hildegard protested bitterly when the local bishop forbade the celebration of or reception of the Eucharist at the Bingen monastery, a sanction that was lifted only a few months before her death. </p>
		<p>In 2012, Hildegard was canonized and named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI.</p>
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