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Movie Review: Mars Needs Moms

March 11, 2011

Mars Needs Moms – A Walt Disney Pictures’ Release

Release Date: March 11th

Rated PG for some scary scenes, and cartoon/animation action

Running time: 88 minutes


Simon Wells (dir.)


Simon Wells (screenplay)

Wendy Wells (screenplay)


Based on the book by Berkeley Breathed


John Powell (music)


Seth Green as Milo

Seth Dusky as Milo (voice)

Dan Fogler as Gribble

Joan Cusack as Mom

Elisabeth Harnois as Ki

Mindy Sterling as Supervisor

Kevin Cahoon as Wingnut

Tom Everett Scott as Dad


©Walt Disney Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Milo (Seth Green), Gribble (Dan Fogler) and Ki (Elisabeth Harnois) in Mars Needs Moms.


Our reviews below:


Mars Needs Moms Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Based on a picture book by Berkeley Breathed, Mars Needs Moms is the latest animated film under the Disney label.  Created under the production of Robert Zemeckis using striking motion capture technology, this is a visually appealing adventure for kids that manages to be better than the trailers might suggest.


Writer/director Simon Wells (great-grandson of H.G.) has crafted a story where, every 25 years, Mars steals mothers from Earth to help in raising their own offspring.  When the 9-year-old Milo (performance of Seth Green, voice of Seth Dusky) has his own mom (Joan Cusack) whisked away to the red planet, he stows away on the spaceship in a mission to get her back.


On Mars, Milo teams up with another mysterious stowaway from Earth, Gribble (Dan Fogler), and gets help from a headstrong rebel martian named Ki (Elisabeth Harnois).  Together they have less than 7 hours to rescue his mom, and to teach the evil supervisor (Mindy Sterling) of the female-run planet a thing or two about the importance of family.


The story is simplistic and I can’t say that it’s entirely engaging for adults, but the unique visuals are impressive and worth seeing in 3D.  The target audience of kids (particularly those in the 6-12 crowd) will enjoy this sci-fi adventure, and the message of accepting parents is put forth in a very sweet way that allows for a few surprisingly tender scenes.


For kids, Mars Needs Moms is a fun sci-fi adventure with a sweet story and good messages.  For adults, it’s a 3D visual delight that provides a pleasant way to spend a mere 88 minutes.


Mars Needs Moms Review by Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Based on the children’s book by Berkeley Breathed, Mars Needs Moms is the newest film from Image Movers Digital – the studio that brought us The Polar Express – and specializes in mo-cap.


Milo’s (movements by Seth Green, voice by Seth Robert Dusky) mother (Joan Cusack) always seems to be nagging after him, and in he anger tells her that maybe his life would be better without a mom.  Then, that night, she is abducted by martians, who want her parenting skills for themselves.  Milo sneaks aboard the ship as it takes off to try to get his mom back, and soon finds himself in the middle of a whole different world – Mars.  There he meets another human, Gribble (Dan Fogler), who has been stuck on Mars for 25 years and together with a martian named Ki (Elisabeth Harnois), they have to find a way to rescue Milo’s mom from the dictating martian supervisor (Mindy Sterling) before it’s too late…


I was pleasantly surprised that I liked this one.  Visually it is a cool film to watch, and the 3D (although not essential) is worth it.  There were a couple of details I liked seeing, such as the futuristic design of the underground, tiered martian world, and the fact that when most of the martians spoke, we hear it as though through a translator with the mouths out of sync and the ‘gibberish’ still faintly audible in the background.  It’s not the most original thing and maybe the story could have been told better, but the film had enough nice touches to make it work.  Seeing the mo-cap work, (which I don’t mind as another filmmaking medium between live-action/animation), profiled during the end credits is cool as well.


Simply put, despite the fact that it doesn’t feel as mature or engaging as some other films, Mars Needs Moms is better than I thought it would be from the trailers, never annoying, and turns out to be a sweet family adventure that will surely be enjoyed by those (at least) 6 and up.


Mars Needs Moms Review by Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Mars Needs Moms is a visually stunning family adventure.  Based on the children’s book by Berkeley Breathed, the movie follows Milo (Seth Green, voice of Seth Dusky), a nine-year-old boy who gets into typical kid arguments with his mother (Joan Cusack).  But one night, a martian ship abducts his mom.  He goes after her, only to discover that while Mars looks dead on the surface, it is very much alive underground.


Milo discovers a fellow human, Gribble (Dan Fogler), who has been stranded on Mars for the last 25 years.  Gribble informs Milo that martians kidnap human mothers, steal their memories and use them to program nanny robots to raise their children.  However, one martian named Ki (Elisabeth Harnois) doesn’t agree with her planet’s militaristic and antisocial way of living.  Ki and Gribble band together with Milo to get back his mom.


Mars Needs Moms is an intelligent and heartwarming kid’s film.  The acting and storyline are decent, but what really makes the film work is the motion capture animation and set design.  I also really liked the pro-family messages.  Although some very young children may be frightened or upset by some of the thematic elements, Mars Needs Moms is a good choice for kids ages six to adolescence.  With no objectionable content, this is a good choice for the whole family to see over the March Break.


Mars Needs Moms Review by Maureen

*** (out of 4)

It turns out that not only does Mars need Moms, they also need ‘a crazy little thing called love.’  Mars Needs Moms is based on a sweet children’s picture book by Berkeley Breathed about the special bond between a boy and his Mom.


Made with wonderfully realistic motion-capture animation, this is a fun and family oriented sci-fi adventure.  Nine-year-old Milo (motion by Seth Green, voice of Seth Dusky) is a typical boy who doesn’t always listen to or respect his mother.  When Mom (Joan Cusack) is abducted during the night by a martian spaceship, Milo manages to stow away and begin his mission to rescue her.


The world of Mars is stranger than Milo could have imagined.  Female martians are the soldiers, male martians work underground in the recycling pit, and the babies – called hatchlings – are raised by robots.  There is no motherly love to be found anywhere.  It is only when Milo meets a fellow human, Gribble (Dan Fogler) and a 1960’s influenced rebellious female martian named Ki (Elisabeth Harnois) that he can come up with a plan to save his Mom and show the martians what love is.


The attention to detail on the spaceship and the futuristic looking martian world is really good.  The metal underground recycling world is particularly well animated.  Kids will especially like the robotic pet, Toucat.  The martians themselves range from scary looking to colourfully silly.   Younger kids will probably find some of the martian world to be too dark or scary.  The motion-capture animated humans are believable and work well in the sci-fi world, though Gribble was a little too silly for my liking.


There’s a lot to like in Mars Needs Moms.  The story is fun with enough adventure to keep kids interested.  The visual world created by the animators is really nice to see and the 3D works well.  Though not as sophisticated as some other animated movies, this is a good choice for families who are looking for a movie that has a nice message about family love and a good sense of fun.  Fans of producer Robert Zemeckis will also want to check this one out.  Stay right through the end credits for a really interesting peek at the making of the motion capture animation.


Mars Needs Moms Review by Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Mars Needs Moms is based on a children’s book by graphic satirist Berkeley Breathed, fleshed out to 88 minute feature-length and realized by the same Image Movers team that did the same for The Polar Express. Young Milo’s (Seth Green) mom (Joan Cusack) is abducted by order of the Martian supervisor (Mindy Sterling). Motherless Martians are raised by mombots programmed from the memories of sacrificed earth mothers. Milo stows away on the spaceship and ends up on a submartian trash heap in the lair of a hacker calling himself Gribble (Dan Fogler), who had come with his mom a generation earlier. With the help of Gribble and Ki ( Elisabeth Harnois), a rebellious female Martian influenced by hippie culture notorious for psychedelic fractal tags, Milo has only a few hours to save his mother and get home.


Mars Needs Moms is an attractive film to watch, especially in 3D, with excellent production under director Simon Wells, a good cast and score from John Powell. The script was not as engaging for me as it would be for children, though it seemed a bit mature for the preschoolers in the audience. One good thing was that the closing credits managed to keep most folks in their seats with clips of the actors going through various scenes in their motion capture suits.


Consensus: Mars Needs Moms is a fun sci-fi adventure for kids, that offers good messages about family.  Although the simplistic story isn’t entirely engaging for adults, the unique 3D visuals are a delight for those of all ages. *** (Out of 4)

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