Mars Needs Moms

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Mars Needs Moms
Mars Needs Moms! Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Simon Wells
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Simon Wells
  • Wendy Wells
Based on Mars Needs Moms! 
by Berkeley Breathed
Starring
Music by John Powell
Cinematography Robert Presley
Edited by Wayne Wahrman
Production
company
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • March 11, 2011 (2011-03-11)
Running time
88 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $150 million[1][2]
Box office $39 million[1]

Mars Needs Moms is a 2011 American 3D motion capture computer-animated science-fiction comedy film 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 co-written and directed by Simon Wells. It was released to theaters on March 11, 2011 by Walt Disney Pictures.[3] 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.[4] The film 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.

Plot[edit]

Unbeknownst to humans, there is a thriving, technologically sophisticated society of Martians living below the surface of Mars. Martian babies are born from subterranean soil and monitored by adult Martians such as Ki (voice and motion by Elisabeth Harnois). Ki and the leader of the Martians, the Supervisor (voice and motion by Mindy Sterling), also keep watch on Earth, observing mothers and their children. After seeing a woman persuade her 9 year old son to compete one of his chores, they select her to be brought back to Mars, where her "momness" will be extracted from her and implanted into the next generation of nanny robots called nannybots.

The movie then shifts focus to the woman (voice and motion by Joan Cusack) and her son, Milo (motion by Seth Green, voice by Seth Dusky). Between cooking and cleaning tasks, the woman effectively parents Milo. She enforces the house rules and explains to him why he should do some things (such as take out the trash) and not do other things (such as feed his vegetables to the cat). Milo doesn't like following the house rules and tells her "My life would be so much better if I didn't have a mom at all." He sees that his statement has hurt her deeply. Later that night, he decides that he will apologize to her. Instead of finding her, he discovers that she has been abducted.

He runs after her. They end up in separate parts of a Martian spaceship. On Mars, Milo is taken to an underground cell by himself. He wanders away from his cell, is chased by Martian guards, hears a voice telling him to jump down a chute, jumps down the chute, and lands in an even lower subterranean level. There, he sees a trash-covered landscape that is inhabited by furry, dreadlocked creatures.

After a fruitless effort to communicate with the furry creatures, Milo is whisked away to meet Gribble, aka George Ribble (voice and motion by Dan Fogler), the child-like adult human man who had told him to jump down the chute. Although Gribble lives in a home built from scraps, he has many technologically advanced gadgets. He uses them to demonstrate to Milo that the Martians plan to extract Milo's Mom's memories from her so that they can to embed her disciplinary skills into their next generation of nannybots. They will do this at the next sunrise, 6.93 hours hence, using a process that will kill her.

Milo wants to rescue his mother, but Gribble is so lonely that he doesn't want Milo to go. In the hopes that he can appear to be a hero to Milo, Gribble pretends to help Milo on a sure-to-fail mission. His plan goes awry leading to Gribble being captured and Milo being pursued by Martian guards.

Milo's rescuer is Ki. In her off hours, Ki is a renegade graffiti artist. While repelling from the side of a building, spraypaint in hand, she comes across Milo, who has gone out onto a ledge to escape his Martian pursuers. She delivers him to safety. She explains to Milo that she learned English and came to love colorful flower graffiti art by watching 1970s American TV programs. Milo doesn't have time for her, but quickly tells her about his search for his Mom and what a human relationship with a mom is like. (She and her kin were mentored by only nannybots and supervisors and don't know of love.) His explanation shows another step in Milo's evolving understanding of his relationship with his Mom, the driving theme of the movie.

Milo jumps down the chute to the lower subterranean level, where he discovers Gribble's absence. Gribble's robotic spider, Two-Cat (voice and motion by Dee Bradley Baker), takes Milo to the Martian compound where Gribble is being prepared for execution. Milo intercedes. Just as the guards are about to fire on Milo and Gribble, Ki tosses Milo the guts of a laser gun. He uses it to escape. He and Gribble retreat to the lower subterranean level and then on to an even lower, uninhabited level. There, Gribble explains his Mom's abduction by the Martians and his stowing away on the Martian ship 25 years earlier. Gribble is still upset by it. He blames his own good behavior as the reason for the Martians choosing his Mom and regrets that he hadn't been able to save her from the momness extraction devise. After revisiting the loss of his own Mom, Gribble decides that he will help save Milo's Mom. Just then, Ki finds them. Gribble forms a crush on Ki. They discover an ancient mural of a Martian family and realize that Martian children weren't always raised by machines.

The three of them develop a plan to rescue Milo's Mom. This takes them to the prison, where they release Gribble's furry friend, Wingnut (voice and motion by Kevin Cahoon) and the other furry creatures. As they watch a live-feed of the baby Martians being readied for categorization, Gribble explains that the female babies will be raised by nannybots in the technologically advanced society, while the male babies will be sent down below to be raised by the furry creatures, i.e., adult male Martians.

Milo, Gribble, and Ki save Milo's Mom a microsecond before sunrise. With Milo's Mom out of the path of the focused sunlight, its energy goes into the Martian control room and shorts out the electronic locks. This lets the adult males enter the control room. The babies are freed, too. Both run amok, attacking the guards and robots.

Milo and his Mom use helmets to supply them with oxygen as they run across the Martian surface, but Milo's helmet breaks and he faints from lack of oxygen. His Mom pulls off her own helmet and puts it on him. As he revives, he realizes that she is dying from lack of oxygen. Before he can pull off the helmet to give it to her, she breaks off its handle, choosing to sacrifice her life to save him. He cries "no, no, Mommy you have to come home with me ...". The Martians watch with awe. For the females raised by nannybots, this is the first time they have seen love. Gribble provides them with another helmet. Mom is revived. Milo apologizes for what he had said the night before, thus completing the seemingly easy quest be began 7 hours earlier.

Ki brings a rocket ship for them to escape in but the Supervisor intervenes. In a show-down between Ki and the Supervisor, Ki explains that Martians were meant to be raised in families, with love, as they had been in the past. The Supervisor argues that the current situation is better, because in the past childrearing took up too much of the females' time and the males didn't help. The guards decide to arrest the Supervisor rather than Ki, Milo, and Gribble, because they prefer the loving vision of family-life over the nannybot version of childraising. The other Martians, male and female alike, celebrate.

Milo, his Mom, Gribble, Ki, and Two-Cat travel to Earth. Gribble decides not to stay, because he wants to pursue a relationship with Ki on Mars. Milo and his Mom return to their house seconds before Milo's Dad (voice and motion by Tom Everett Scott) comes home. A short reunion ensues, with sly references to life not being quite the same as it was before.

An additional scene with NASA's Mars Rover and footage of the motion capture process are shown during the credits.


Cast[edit]


Production[edit]

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.[6] The production designer was Doug Chiang, and the supervising art director was Norm Newberry.[7] The title of the film is a twist on the title of American International Pictures' 1966 film Mars Needs Women. 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.[5] The makers came up with their own alien language.[8] 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.[9]

Release[edit]

Critical response[edit]

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 reads "The cast is solid and it's visually well-crafted, but Mars Needs Moms suffers from a lack of imagination and heart."[10] Metacritic assigned an average critical score of 49 out of 100 based on 22 reviews.[11]

Box office[edit]

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.[12][13] This is the 15th worst opening ever for a film playing in 3,000+ theaters.[14] 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.[15][16] In 2014, the LA Times listed the film as one of the most expensive box office flops of all time.[17] On March 14, 2011, Brooks 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."[18]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and movie download on August 9, 2011.[19][20][21] 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.[20][21][22] 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.[20][21] 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 additionally includes deleted scenes, the "Life On Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience" feature, and an extended opening film clip.[20][21] 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.[20][21][23]

Soundtrack[edit]

Mars Needs Moms
Soundtrack album by John Powell
Released March 3, 2011
Recorded January 7, 2011
Genre Film soundtrack, film score
Length 1:26
Label Walt Disney
Producer John Powell
John Powell chronology
Knight and Day
(2010)
Mars Needs Moms
(2011)
Rio
(2011)

The film's score was composed by John Powell. The soundtrack was released by Walt Disney Records on March 3, 2011.

  • "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" – Queen
  • "Mars Observers"
  • "Abduction and Trashworld"
  • "Enjoy the Ride"
  • "Mars Needs Moms"
  • "Gribble's Plan"
  • "Milo Escapes"
  • "Gribble's Loss"
  • "Firing Squad"
  • "To the Surface"
  • "The Sacrifice"
  • "Transformation"
  • "Family Reunion"
  • "Mars Needs Moms" (credits suite)
  • "Martian Mambo"

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Mars Needs Moms (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  2. ^ Kaufman, Amy (March 10, 2011). "Movie Projector: 'Battle: Los Angeles' will rule, 'Mars Needs Moms' will bomb". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 13, 2011. 
  3. ^ Stewart, Andrew (March 9, 2010). "Disney sets date for 'Mars'". Variety. Retrieved March 10, 2010. 
  4. ^ Finke, Nikki (March 12, 2010). "Disney Closing Zemeckis' Digital Studio". Deadline.com. Retrieved November 21, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Kaufman, Amy (March 8, 2011). "Seth Green moves, but doesn't speak, in 'Mars Needs Moms'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 23, 2012. 
  6. ^ Webb, Charles (August 9, 2011). "Interview: MARS NEEDS MOMS Director/Writer Simon Wells". Twitch Film. Retrieved February 25, 2012. 
  7. ^ Loewenstein, Lael (March 8, 2011). "Review: ‘Mars Needs Moms’". Variety. Retrieved September 25, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Mars Needs Moms - Productions Notes". Cinemareview.com. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Mars Needs Moms Interview - Elisabeth Harnois". Trailer Addict. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Mars Needs Moms". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 1, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Mars Needs Moms Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  12. ^ Young, John (March 13, 2011). "Box office report: 'Battle: Los Angeles' conquers all with $36 mil". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  13. ^ Lumenick, Lou (March 14, 2011). "Box Office: 'Mars Needs Moms' a megaton bomb". New York Post. 
  14. ^ "Worst Openings at the Box Office for 3,000+ Theatres". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  15. ^ Ben Riley-Smith (March 21, 2011). "'Mars Needs Moms': does flop mean 3D is history?". thefirstpost.co.uk. Retrieved July 31, 2011. 
  16. ^ McClintock, Pamela (March 14, 2011). "Why Disney's 'Mars Needs Moms' Bombed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 24, 2012. 
  17. ^ Eller, Claudia (January 15, 2014). "The costliest box office flops of all time". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 6, 2014. 
  18. ^ Barnes, Brooks (March 14, 2011). "Many Culprits in Fall of a Family Film". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Mars Needs Moms Blu-ray 3D Release Date and Pre-Orders". The HD Room. May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  20. ^ a b c d e Gallagher, Brian (May 6, 2011). "Mars Needs Moms 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD Arrive August 9th". MovieWeb. Retrieved May 8, 2011. 
  21. ^ a b c d e "Mars Needs Moms 2D and 3D Blu-rays". Blu-ray.com. May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2011. 
  22. ^ DuHamel, Brandon (May 7, 2011). "Mars Needs Moms Travels to Blu-ray, 3D and DVD in August". Blu-ray Definition. Retrieved May 8, 2011. 
  23. ^ "'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. 

External links[edit]