MARS Needs Moms is a 3D computer-animated adventure that affirms the special bond between mother and child, based on the delightful children’s book by Berkeley Breathed.
Rendered using same state-of-the-art motion capture technology that brought The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol to life, Simon Wells’s fast-paced film mixes action, comedy and some heart-tugging emotion with aplomb, delivering out of this world thrills to audiences of all ages.
Admittedly, the narrative is flimsy and some of the characters are caricatures, but deficiencies in the script, which Wells co-wrote with his wife Wendy, don’t get in the way of our enjoyment.
Nine-year-old Milo (voiced by Seth Green) doesn’t appreciate his mother (Joan Cusack) as much as he should.
After a disagreement about broccoli, which Milo refuses to eat because it “looks like brains”, the youngster is sent to his room to sulk.
“My life would be so much better if I didn’t have a mom at all!” he spits, reducing his parent to tears.
That night, Martians descend from the skies and kidnap Milo’s mother, intending to spirit her away to the red planet where they will use her to power the nanny bots that take care of their hatchlings.
Milo stows on board the Martian craft and seeks refuge in the Martian rubbish tip, home to a techno-savvy human called Gribble (Dan Fogler).
The astronaut vows to help Milo rescue his mother from the terrifying Supervisor (Mindy Sterling).
En route, the plucky nine-year-old meets a rebel Martian called Ki (Elisabeth Harnois), whose entire understanding of the human race has been derived from the retro television sitcom, Freaks On Our Street.
“What powers do flowers have?” she ponders excitedly.
Mars Needs Moms doesn’t waste a second of its bright and breezy 88 minutes, quickly jettisoning Milo and his mother into space for a bonding exercise they will never forget.
Green, Fogler and Harnois deliver energetic vocal performances and Sterling is a delicious boo-hiss villainess.
Action set pieces are orchestrated at breakneck pace, and look mightily impressive in 3D.
Director Wells doesn’t forget the emotion too, crafting a tear-jerking finale that will have lots of parents sobbing uncontrollably into their popcorn.
During the end credits, a montage of behind the scenes footage shows actors on set, their movements and facial expressions captured before the computer wizardry takes over.
In the words of Fogler’s sidekick, it’s Gribble-tastic!