Weekend Review – “Mars Needs Moms (2011)”

This Disney flick from earlier this year exceeded my expectations, but those expectations were set by score of 4.8/10 on the IMDB.

Cast and Crew Information

Screenplay by Simon and Wendy Wells, based on a book by Berkeley Breathed.
Directed by Simon Wells

Availability Information

This is available from Amazon.com in single disc DVD only, two disc Blu-Ray/DVD combo, four disc Blu-Ray 3D/Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital copy combo and discless instant video formats. The Blu-Ray (and possibly other formats) has an Easter egg. Go to the bonus features menu, then go “up” on the remote for a 60 second bonus clip.


Milo has his Mom have the required argument right before Martians capture his mother. They no longer reproduce biologically, and they need a human mother to use a template to program their nannybots every 25 years.

High Point

Ki and Gribble trying to communicate with slang terms that are a decade apart.

Low Point

The premise and history of the culture is deeply flawed as it is presented here.

The Review

This is hardly original. The basic idea behind it has been present in everything from Mars Needs Women to both versions of Invaders From Mars. Turning into a family film instead of a horror or sex comedy is new, but credit for that goes to Berkeley Breathed, who wrote the book that was adapted into this story. I give it 2 out of 6.

The effects were mixed. The motion capture acting has matured nicely, making the motion of everything but lips very fluid. Human mouths are still hard to render convincingly, and the character designs for Milo and his mother have inhumanly large eyes. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story isn’t complicated. The issues I have with it are the back story to Mars itself, leading to the current status quo. Once the status quo is established, the events depicted in the film are logical and flowing. I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting isn’t just voice acting. The voice actors were also the motion capture actors that animated their characters. As a result, we get some very smooth motion, and gestures that are consistent with the level of passion in the voices that go along with them. I give it 5 out of 6.

The production shows significant improvement over The Polar Express. The animation quality has improved, and this strikes me as one of the few movies that would actually benefit from the 3D treatment without feeling like a gimmick. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response was surprisingly strong. Beyond the nods to classic sci-fi films (most notably the original Star Wars trilogy) the story hits points that make you actually care about the characters. This was unexpected, given how unlikeable every human character is in his or her first minute of screen time. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, this is a decent family film. You don’t need to rush out and see it, but you needn’t actively avoid it either. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Mars Needs Moms receives 28 out of 42.

3 replies on “Weekend Review – “Mars Needs Moms (2011)””

    • Well, for the rest of this month, DVD release columns and comic columns with the New 52 reviews are all I’m going to have time for. (I’ll aim for two per day once the titles start rolling out in earnest on Wednesday.) I wanted to get some movies in before that flood.

    • Our next two Saturday reviews will tackle more recent, though lesser-known, movies that some of our readers might want to view.

      “…you needn’t actively avoid it either,” may be the faintest praise in film-review history. It’s the equivalent of telling your friend the blind date you’ve set up is a “good dancer.”

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