Mars Needs Moms Retro Talk; Grade: F
Updated: Apr 27
Welcome to another edition of Retro Talk! Well well congrats to everyone whom escaped March. It's April and let's just hope this will be the last month of encountering this depression we call The Quarantine Period. Since April fools was a couple days ago, it's time to talk about a complete joke of a film no one ever talks about... Mars Needs Moms.
My XBOX One’s DVD player would not play my RedBox rental.. For some reason, there were no scratches and the DVD looked basically brand new. So I went on Disney Plus and looked at some selections and Mars Needs Moms was available. I've always wondered about this kept secret Disney film, as now Disney Plus has given me the bright opportunity at 3 A.M. on a Thursday morning.
Mars Needs Moms is a 2011 Disney film made by Simon Wells, director of such animated films Balto and The Prince of Egypt, also the director of The Time Machine... I remember watching that as a kid, as I still can't remember a single thing about it. Now Simon Wells in the animated department really has a fine resume according to critics and audience, so not a bad choice to go with. The striking thing about Simon Wells is Mars Needs Moms is his first film with a writing credit. You know what else could be over whelming, other than your first crack in writing?! Hmmmm let me think, how about a budget of... 150 MILLION DOLLARS?!?! YOU KNOW HOW MANY A24 FILMS WE COULD'VE GOTTEN?!? Mars Needs Moms was not a box office hit, in fact it lost a total of 111 million dollars... So there is a valid reason, why Disney just keeps this flop under the rug, as no one can recollect the existence of this film.
As I finished Mars Needs Moms, I'm left with more questions than answers. This film reminds me of two animated films: Planet 51 and Polar Express. Planet 51 for two reasons: Humans and Aliens, plus the quality level as they're both baffling to watch. Polar Express because of the animated style. The animation style of Polar Express may not be as advanced like you remembered, but with excellent story telling and intriguing fun characters, you can get away with it during the time of release. Let's talk about animation... This a terribly looking animated film. I give credit towards one shot, of Milo's (Seth Green) Incredibles poster in his room... It looks nice. But every single character design in this film is atrocious. Milo and his mom (Joan Cusack) facial expression wise are completely blank, they never change once as they're just boring to look at. I didn't care for the character design of Gribble (Dan Folger) as well, he reminded of a far more annoying version of the guy on the top of the train character in Polar Express. I really hated the designs of all the aliens, one looks like that one elderly man from Star Wars... Look nerds I don’t care about Star Wars, leave me alone. The younger females have strange bodies, as they are uncomfortable to look at. Oh and the male aliens... What the hell was that?! They just look like cavemen, that's not what an alien looks like. The set pieces were very uninspired, it never captures your eye as it's either dirty or just no originality was put into the buildings created.
So we have four characters in this film. We have Milo the kid, Milo's mom, Gribble, Ki (Elisabeth Harnois) the hippy alien, and Supervisor (Mindy Sterling)... Wait that's the antagonist’s name?! Supervisor?! Comon Simon! Milo is just a kid who doesn't appreciate his mom and will soon appreciate her, because aliens took her away... Anyways, I didn't enjoy watching Milo, found him insanely annoying as he just whines the entire time. Does Milo learn a valuable lesson?! I guess? But everything before he said those words and leading towards this mission is just stupid. There isn't a character arc for this character, he atomically knows he does wrong as he quickly wants to apologize to his mom... So do we really need a mission to Mars for this character to learn he shouldn't be such a dick?! More than likely not. Milo's Mom is a Mom that is a Mom... That's it, that's the character. To the characters defense she was asleep a good hour of the run time... It's funny because at the end of the film, the mom tells Milo to try to not wake her up, even though she was kidnapped and put in a loud space craft... How can an annoying child be louder, than everything else that is clearly louder?! Mars NEEDS Moms! Gribble is that comedic relief the audience just needs, to be informed what is going on. Many questions and concerns for this character. How does this character survive in Mars for twenty plus years?! He is not Matt Damon in The Martian, he's not growing any food, drinking any water, how the hell does he survive?! Mars NEEDS Moms! Not only is this character extremely obnoxious, but it's a very confusing character to begin with. First I thought he went on a space mission, then he got lost. But it just so happens his mother was captured too... HUH?! Because earlier Gribble was talking about a space force mission, now all of a sudden he actually has been in Milo's shoes, but somehow is skilled in all this technical stuff in the space craft?! How is that possible?! Mars NEEDS Moms! Ki is an alien that enjoys the idea of humanity and flowers, whom wants to bang Gribble... Wow movie, very cool. The way Ki talks is as obnoxious as Gribble, saying FAR OUT MAN or HEY MAN I'M NOT THE FUZZ... I don't know anymore. Supervisor the evil Alien is lazy and hates men... She would be a hero on Twitter. Her logic in thinking makes absolutely no sense, like she's a psychopathic dictator.
It's time to discuss the thousands and thousands of problems with the story of Mars NEEDS Moms! The film starts with a confusing opening, that makes you want to shut off the film within minutes. First off let's discuss how the opening of the film should've gone. We should've started with a tragic opening, of a missing mom or in this case a missing child as well. It's a devastating breaking news telecast, as we see interviews of the mom/child's friends/family discuss the tragedy that is upon them, followed by someone experienced seeing a strange beaming light in the night. It sets the tone just how devastating it is to lose not only a mother, but a family member, friend, and child. Plus it creates mystery as to what is that beaming light in the sky, it’s a strong opening followed by mystery on what might’ve happened. Instead... We have aliens scream on a TV screen, trying to discover the next mom to be captured. This opening is terrible for many reasons. It gives it's moral purpose away too easy, having no interest in mystery. The unnecessary loud screaming is baffling to watch, you honestly want to turn off the TV right away, it doesn't welcome the audience to keep watching. Plus: Just because a mother has lack of discipline, doesn't mean she's a bad mom. There are plenty of good moms, who aren't discipline, the logic behind these aliens moral thinking of a good mother is stupid. Milo makes a dumb decision, of trying to watch TV faster, by feeding the cat broccoli, which causes the cat to puke all over the floor, which brings confrontation between Milo and his mom. Now I'm not a fan of cats, but what the hell was this kid thinking?! Throw the broccoli in the trash can or flush it down the toilet, I don't even think any kid would attempt this honestly. Why is this kid giving his mother a hard time?! You didn't obey your mothers orders, which now you can't watch TV. If you just gave a little effort and eat a couple stems of your broccoli, surely she would grant you TV, it's what moms do, you show effort and you’ll be rewarded. With terrible usage of dialogue, we're now treated as we are dumb, as Milo explains how sorry he is and his plan to apologize his mother... Why did we need to hear every single detail? Because... Mars NEEDS Moms! How Milo got on the spacecraft, after his mother got kidnapped is very unrealistic, but the fact Milo wanted the spacecraft to "Let Him Go" while he's about a thousand feet up in the air... Milo, you do realize you would die instantly if they let you go right?! Mars NEEDS Moms! We are introduced to the Male Alien characters, whom are incredibly clueless and stupid because this film hates men... A very sexist film I do say so myself. It continues by Milo describing his mom as his personal maid. "My mom feeds me, my mom vacuums, my mom cleans"... Oh boy this would've been a scandal on twitter #CancelMilo2020 ! Did you enjoy the male aliens dance?! No? Neither did I. Laws of gravity on the spaceship go on and off, sometimes it's a struggle to run and sometimes it's not, is it ever explained?! Of course it's not, because... Mars NEEDS Moms! Gribble explains the plan of the aliens using Milo's mom, to be their mom. It has nothing to do with her being a slave for parenting, but it does has something to do with gaining the moms memory space?! The aliens have this advance technology, why not program these androids with simple instructions by coding?! It doesn't make any sense. Plus when they wipe her memory out, they execute her after... For a kids film that's not only dark, but over the top dark. Why not dump her back on earth when you're done?! Save energy when you are actually threaten on your planet? Gribble gives Milo a watch of when his mom is gonna die, as Milo atomically knows how much time is left... How does Milo know the theory of time with this watch, without much explantation?! Gribble tells a joke of comparing the Supervisor as the School Lunch Lady, while Milo fires back with a joke of his own, as the Supervisor should be taking botox... If this kid knows what botox is, why not compare the Supervisor to Hitler?! I mean she is Hitler in a way, but I guess Hitler is way more darker than murdering mothers?! Ok Disney.
An unusually boring adventure happens, why is it boring?! Well I forgot about it hours after watching it, so I guess that sums it up. It just reminds you of other kids films, done better with these epic sequences of adventure, it's not displaying anything new, so it comes off very forgettable. But let's talk about the conclusion of the film: WOW! So Milo almost sacrifices his own life, to save his mothers life. But then the mom sacrifices her own helmet to save Milo's life.... BUT WAIT A TWIST!!! Gribble was hiding a helmet 20 YEARS AGO, never moved and doesn't have a scratch on the helmet, as now Milo's mom is saved... HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?! There is no way in hell that helmet would be secure, working, and untouched for 20 years. The Supervisor explains why she uses humans for mothering, as she comes off not necessarily evil, but more so lazy. They turn on her as now the planet will enjoy parenting and mating finally again, happily in Mars. Milo and his mom come back to earth, the father returns home, as happily ever after right... Well not exactly. Milo takes out the trash, as the father believes he must've messed up over the weekend... But get this?! Milo DESTROYS the trash with his alien gun and smiles at the camera, ending it off in the most cringe way possible in cinema history... MARS NEEDS MOMS!!!
This maybe one of the worst animated films, but I have something positive to say... It wasn't a complete chore to watch start to finish. Sure there were moments that I wanted to give up, but you know what?! The fascination of pointing out problem after problem after problem after problem gave this film a great amount of activity for me. After finishing this film I realize Disney didn't keep this under the rug because it's a disastrous flop, it's simply because it's extremely dull and lifeless to watch. I mean the story is terrible, the comedic material is not funny at all, characters are unlikable and annoying, it's not fun to watch, the dialogue is atrocious... I mean it's just a flat out embarrassment. If you can't make the best out of a terrible film, best believe you're either going to turn it off immediately or be bored out of your freaking mind. I don't know if it's the quarantine that's giving me energy to handle this disaster, but somehow I survived on Mars with Moms!
Overall, Mars Needs Moms is complete baffling trash. Keep the reputation of this film the way it's suppose to be: A Historic Flop Forgotten. Let's end this Retro Talk on a high note. Thank you to all those in the Medical Field for their outstanding effort during this pandemic, you are the real heroes, God Bless you all. Thank you to the chefs, delivery drivers, grocery store workers, post office men and women, and Amazon for their outstanding effort to remain calm and working hard for us, Bless you unsung heroes. A Big Thank You to all at home quarantining, you guys are also heroes for making an impact towards the cause, keep it this way so we can go back to our lives ASAP! Tune in next week for another edition of Retro Talk! -Mitch Smietana