Mars Needs Moms
|Mars Needs Moms|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Simon Wells|
|Based on||Mars Needs Moms!
by Berkeley Breathed
|Music by||John Powell|
|Edited by||Wayne Wahrman|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios
|Box office||$39 million|
Mars Needs Moms is a 2011 American 3D motion capture computer-animated science fiction comedy film co-written and directed by Simon Wells, and based on the Berkeley Breathed book of the same title. The film is centered on Milo, a nine-year-old boy who finally comes to understand the importance of family, and has to rescue his mother after she is abducted by Martians. It was released to theaters on March 11, 2011 by Walt Disney Pictures. The film stars both Seth Green (motion capture) and newcomer Seth Dusky (voice) as Milo.
This was the last film by ImageMovers Digital before it was absorbed back into ImageMovers. The film was a commercial and critical flop, and is the fourth biggest box office bomb in history adjusted for inflation (and second biggest unadjusted), grossing less than $39 million on a budget of $150 million.
Nine-year-old Milo (Seth Green, voice-over by Seth Dusky) is just beginning summer vacation, and his father (Tom Everett Scott) is leaving for a business trip. While Milo is wanting his summer to be a fun one, his mother (Joan Cusack) assigns him chores and tasks like taking out the trash. At dinnertime, Milo is given broccoli. His mother has a "no broccoli no TV" rule which Milo cleverly evades. When Milo paints his little sister's face purple, he gets caught, grounded, and is sent to bed early. After a heated argument with his mother, Milo wishes that she never had a mom. Later that night, his wish comes true when his mother is abducted by Martians who plan to steal her "momness" to rear their own young.
Milo's quest to save his mom involves stowing away on a spaceship, navigating an elaborate, multi-level planet and taking on the alien nation and their leader, the Supervisor (Mindy Sterling). With the help of tech-savvy subterranean-dwelling earthling Gribble (Dan Fogler), his bionic underground pet Two-Cat (Dee Bradley Baker), and rebellious Martian Ki (Elisabeth Harnois), Milo finds his way back to his mom.
The Martians are born from the ground every five years. By an automated process, robots separate the males from the females. The males are cast into the garbage dump (where they live a primitive existence). Each female is placed in the care of a nanny robot. Each batch of nannies requires an earthling mother to provide their maternal programing. The process which will download each mother's memories results in her death.
The females are raised by the robot nannies to join a highly regimented matriarchal society; highly technological and free of physical affection. The Supervisor constructed this society to be freed from the burdens of child rearing.
At the beginning of the film, Martians observe Earth mothers, passing up those who are too indulgent or unable to control their children. They select Milo's mother based on her ability to command Milo to take out the trash.
- Seth Green as Milo (motion capture)
- Seth Dusky as Milo (voice)
- Joan Cusack as Milo's mother
- Tom Everett Scott as Milo's father
- Elisabeth Harnois as Ki
- Dan Fogler as George "Gribble" Ribble
- Mindy Sterling as The Supervisor
- Kevin Cahoon as Wingnut
- Ryan, Robert and Raymond Ochoa and Gavin Bryson Thompson as Martian Hatchlings
- Liam and Edgar Wells as Robot Martians
- Dee Bradley Baker as Two-Cat
Simon Wells had known Zemeckis since the mid-1980s when he was supervising animator and storyboard artist for Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He also worked on Back to the Future Part II and III and later worked on The Polar Express, which was why he was attracted into making Mars Needs Moms. The production designer was Doug Chiang, and the supervising art director was Norm Newberry.
After spending six weeks outfitted in a special sensor-equipped performance-capture suit while simultaneously performing Milo's lines, Seth Green's voice sounded too mature for the character and was dubbed over by that of 11-year-old actor Seth R. Dusky.
The makers came up with their own alien language. Elisabeth Harnois stated in an interview that she and the cast were given scenarios by Wells to which they acted out responses in improvised Martian language.
The film received negative reviews from critics. The acting and visuals were praised but the writing, premise, character expressions, and drama were criticized. Opinions of the motion capture animation were mixed. Some praised it for looking realistic and others criticized it for falling into the uncanny valley and looking creepy. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 37% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on reviews from 111 critics, with an average rating of 5 out of 10. The critical consensus was: "The cast is solid and it's visually well-crafted, but Mars Needs Moms suffers from a lack of imagination and heart." Metacritic assigned an average critical score of 49 out of 100 based on 22 reviews.
Mars Needs Moms was a failure and has the worst box-office reception for a Disney-branded film. It earned only $1,725,000 on its first day, for a weekend total of $6,825,000. This is the 15th worst opening ever for a film playing in 3000+ theaters. Even adjusted for inflation, considering the total net loss of money (not the profit to loss ratio), it was still the fifth largest box office bomb in history. In 2014, the LA Times listed the film as one of the most expensive box office flops of all time. On March 14, 2011, Brook Barnes of The New York Times commented that it was rare for a Disney-branded film to do so badly, with the reason for its poor performance being the subject (a mother kidnapped from her child), the style of animation, which fails to cross the uncanny valley threshold, and negative word of mouth on social networks, along with releasing it on the same week as Battle: Los Angeles which had more hype with the general movie goers. Barnes concluded, "Critics and audiences alike, with audiences voicing their opinions on Twitter, blogs and other social media, complained that the Zemeckis technique can result in character facial expressions that look unnatural. Another common criticism was that Mr. Zemeckis focuses so much on technological wizardry that he neglects storytelling."
The film was released on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and movie download on August 9, 2011. The release is produced in three different physical packages: a 4-disc combo pack (Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and "Digital Copy"); a 2-disc Blu-ray combo pack (Blu-ray and DVD); and a 1-disc DVD. The "Digital Copy" included with the 4-disc combo pack is a separate disc that allows users to download a copy of the film onto a computer through iTunes or Windows Media Player software. The film is also a movie download or On-Demand option. All versions of the release (except for the On-Demand option) include the "Fun With Seth" and "Martian 101" bonus features, while the Blu-ray 2D version will additionally include deleted scenes, the "Life On Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience" feature, and an extended opening film clip. The Blu-ray 3D version also has an alternate scene called "Mom-Napping", a finished 3D alternate scene of the Martian abduction of Milo's Mom.
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- "Worst Openings at the Box Office for 3,000+ Theatres". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
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- "Eller, Claudia,"The costliest box office flops of all time", Los Angeles Times (January 15, 2014)". latimes.com. August 6, 2012. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- Barnes, Brook (March 14, 2010). "Many Culprits in Fall of a Family Film". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2010.
- "Mars Needs Moms Blu-ray 3D Release Date and Pre-Orders". The HD Room. May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
- Gallagher, Brian (May 6, 2011). "Mars Needs Moms 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD Arrive August 9th". MovieWeb. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
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- DuHamel, Brandon (May 7, 2011). "Mars Needs Moms Travels to Blu-ray, 3D and DVD in August". Blu-ray Definition. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
- "'Mars Needs Moms' Lands on Disney 3D Blu-ray/DVD on August 9; Includes 3D Exclusive Bonus Scene". Stitch Kingdom. May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
- Official website
- Mars Needs Moms at the Internet Movie Database
- Mars Needs Moms at the Big Cartoon Database
- Mars Needs Moms at AllMovie
- Mars Needs Moms at Rotten Tomatoes
- Mars Needs Moms at Metacritic