Mars Needs Moms
needs Moms.’ With a title like that, I was prepared to hate this movie.
I mean, how could this be anything other than one long, cutesy,
was right and I was wrong. The good news is, I didn’t use the bucket I
had on standby once.
is directed by Simon Wells, and based on a picture book by cartoonist
and author Berkeley Breathed. The story goes as following:
(played by Seth Green and voiced by Seth Dusky), a nine-year-old boy,
earns a grounding from his mother by breaking his promises and lying.
Unbeknownst to this typical suburban family, a race of martians is
watching their every move with keen interest. Impressed by the stern
response and discipline imposed by Milo’s mother, they send a ship to
earth and kidnap her in the dead of the night. In a desperate attempt to
rescue her, Milo clambers aboard the ship and the two of them are
whisked away to Mars. Milo discovers that the surface of the planet is
covered in junk, and inhabited by a race of unkempt, dispossessed
aliens. He is rescued from their affections by Gribble (Dan Fogler), an
adult who has been living on the red planet since he was himself taken
as a kid. Combining forces with Gribble and female martian vandal Ki
(Elisabeth Harnois), they set out to free Milo’s mum from captivity and
save the day.
fairly basic plot, and it never really detours into the unknown or
surprises you. The situation isn’t helped by the characters, most of
whom don’t seem to have enough to do. Gribble’s robot fills the typical
disney role of cheeky animal sidekick, but without an expressive face or
any dialogue he lacks personality. The same can be said for Wingnut,
Gribble’s ‘other’ sidekick- he just doesn’t make any contribution to the
story. While the alien Ki at first appears interesting and charismatic
as the female lead, she never develops into anything meaningful, and at
the end of the film you’re left wondering if her only purpose was as a
love interest for the repressed Gribble.
himself is by far the most interesting character in the movie. While
some of his dialogue is cringe-worthy, some of it is genuinely funny,
and delivered with boyish enthusiasm by Fogler.
much-touted motion capture technology is generally used to pretty good
effect here, there are some odd moments when a character’s face is meant
to convey a particular emotion, and it doesn’t look right. Maybe
something has been lost in the translation from the real actor’s face to
their animated counterpart, or maybe the performance wasn’t subtle
enough in the first place- it’s difficult to tell.
are some shining lights. The musical score by John Powell is good, with
hints of spooky theremin at the beginning, and bold, adventurous tones
when the action reaches its peak. The visuals are impressive, in a
simple kind of way. And the interplay between the three leads is
entertaining for most of the film.
two special features included on this DVD. ‘Fun with Seth’ shows Seth
Green and the other cast members mucking around on set or playing with
the mo-cap technology. ‘Martian 101’ deals with the creation of an alien
language from the ground up.
before watching it, you know what the core message of ‘Mars needs Moms’
is going to be - be nice to your mother while you have the chance. If you
can get past this moral high-handedness and the rough edges, it’s really
not that bad a movie.