Movie Review: "Mars Needs Moms"

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I first have to say, after seeing a couple animated films this year, and not being impressed, my opinions for this film were highly doubtful. Since there has been little advertising or trailers floating around in cyber space my senses where running on high as to whether or not this film was going to live up to Disney expectations. Let me express this in the best and most professional way, WOW. What an amazingly touching sci-fi movie with heart.

Walt Disney Productions and ImageMovers have teamed up to bring a film following in the success of the performance capture process of “A Christmas Carol”.  Director Simon Wells (The Time Machine, The Prince of Egypt) delves into his rich history of storytelling and artwork with the imaginative writing help, of his wife, Wendy and based on the book by cartoonist Berkeley Breathed.

Milo is 9 and at that age. You know, where a young boy knows everything and wants to be independent and needs no one. Parents know the truth, especially moms, knowing that a little discipline is always needed. Milo’s mom is no different and after a particular night of being disobedient, his mom punishes him and Milo exclaims he wishes he didn’t have a mom. That mistakable wish is about to come true as the Martians have targeted a mom, Milo’s, to take care of their own new hatchlings. How is one mom going to do that? The Martians have their way.

A story that blasted its way out of an incident between a 4 year old and his mom has made its way to the big screen. Simon and Wendy have taken Breathed’s encounter and made it an ‘out of this world’ experience that only Disney could do, and boy do they. It is amazing the details not only in the animation performance but in the writing of the characters.

Depth in the development of an animated character is sometimes tough to bring out in that most stories rely on the animation to drive the film. This film could have been a live action film and been just as expressive and meaningful. From Milo’s initial ‘pushing’ his mom away thru his realization of his need of her to the awakening of the Martians and their past, the writing is superb.

And I will not discount the animation as ImageMovers has continued to excel and advance their technology of the performance capture process. I have always stayed through the credits of a film to give those who gave their utmost creativity their due. I enjoyed these credits much more as they showed the process in four angles. Seeing that it is not just a computer image but a physical progression before the animators take over and add their flair and freedom, to create not just worlds but characters you begin to love and relate too. 

With the performance capture technology, the actors are able to bring a new element to the pallet. Milo is played by, the preverbal childlike, Seth Green (Robot Chicken, Austen Powers series). I say childlike in that Green is known for his cartoon antics and here he plays it up. He is a kid with the creativity of an adult, with all the abilities and instincts running at full speed. Helping Milo adapt on Mars is a fellow earthling in Gribble played by Dan Fogler (Fanboys, Good Luck Chuck). Fogler, like Green, is a perfect fit as the character who is a child adult. His antics as Gribble is reminiscent of Robin Williams in “Jack”.

Since we are on Mars there has to be a Martian or two, Ki, played by Elisabeth Harnois (Miami Medical, A Single Man) and Mindy Sterling (Austen Powers series, Desperate Housewives) as Supervisor. The two play the perfect Yen and Yang in this film with Harnois playing the Martian who loves and learns from a 70’s inspired sitcom while Sterling takes her ‘Frau’ character to the extreme of totalitarianism.

I cannot forget who the film is about, a mom or the mom played by Joan Cusack (Toy Story 3, My Sisters Keeper). Cusack’s may not be in much of the film but when she is, touching doesn’t begin to describe her presence. Her mom depiction is true to the core. You just want to call your mom after watching her just to say ‘I love you’.

‘Mars’ is one of those films that you always want to see and it delivers two fold, in emotion and entertainment. To have a film, animation or live action, with such depth is far and few between. This is an animated comedy with a soul. It breathes life into an industry that at times forgets how film making, no matter what form, should be.

For those of you who have read any of my reviews before, I always end with how the film relates to real life. This film hits home in many ways for me. As an only child of a single mom I had my moments of wanting to just get away, be alone or with another family. It just wouldn’t be the same. Moms may nag, they may ask us to do things or constantly harp on us but it’s not without reason. Parents are teachers in their own right. They set rules or guidelines for us so that when we are older we can be a better person. I know that this is in an ideal situation. I was lucky to have such a mom, a teacher, motivator, therapist, and a friend. My mom did everything she could for me since it was just the two of us. She sacrificed her personal life so that I may thrive in mine. It was more than that; she thrived in my life with me, being just as much a part of it as I was. We had our moments of ‘I hate you’, ‘your ungrateful’ but they were far and few between because it was about growing. You can’t dwell on the past if you plan on succeeding in the future. Learn, adapt, change and move forward. A mother’s love is never ending and always forgiving.