Mars Needs Moms

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Mars Needs Moms
Mars needs moms xlg.jpg
The movie that killed ImageMovers Digital and cancelled many projects with Disney, including the Yellow Submarine remake and the Roger Rabbit sequel.
Genre: Adventure
Directed By: Simon Wells
Produced By: Robert Zemeckis
Jack Rapke
Steve Starkey
Steven Boyd
Written By/Screenplay: Simon Wells
Wendy Wells
Based On: Mars Needs Moms! by Berkeley Breathed
Starring: Seth Dusky (voice of Milo)
Seth Green (motion capture of Milo)
Dan Fogler
Elisabeth Harnois
Mindy Sterling
Joan Cusack
Tom Everett Scott
Photography: Color
Cinematography: Robert Presley
Distributed By: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release Date: March 6, 2011 (El Capitan Theatre)
March 11, 2011 (United States)
Runtime: 88 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $150 million
Box Office: $39.2 million

Mars Needs Moms is a 2011 American 3D computer-animated science-fiction adventure film based on the Berkeley Breathed book of the same name, produced by Walt Disney Pictures and ImageMovers Digital (the last film produced by ImageMovers Digital before it was re-absorbed back into ImageMovers), and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, and was directed by Simon Wells. The film premiered at El Capitan Theatre on March 6, 2011,[1] and was released to theaters on March 11, 2011.


Milo is a 9-year-old boy who has a lot on his mind; he has monster movies to watch, comic books to read, and all other kinds of fun stuff to accomplish. He definitely does not have time to do homework or eat his vegetables. He's getting tired of his mom nagging him to do these things, and his mom is tired of nagging. But just as Milo is telling his mom that life would be more fun without her, Martians kidnap her. Milo stows away on their spaceship, determined to launch a rescue.

Why We Need a Little Space From this Film

  1. Hideous and cringe-inducing motion capture animation with terrible and dreadful physics and movements, like when Milo is first seen falling down from the chute and into the world of trash where he never roll the fount flip or back flip, to this point where he looks more like he is just trying to reach. This is really off putting since ImageMovers was capable of decent animation with The Polar Express, Monster House (their only film that managed to avoid the uncanny valley), Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol, with good physics and movement and are also somewhat good/decent movies.
    • The producers should have realized that motion-capture animation is still a work in progress and, while it's been mastered in current-gen games, this one is plain abysmal.
      • Since the humans are supposed to look real, it would've made more sense to just record them in live action with green screens. Not only would that have allowed the humans to look much better, but it also would've saved money.
    • Bafflingly, they got Seth Green, a fully grown adult, to mocap Milo, a kid. He even voiced him until he was dubbed over by an actual kid, Seth Dusky. The Seth Green voice can be found in the trailers until on 29th May 2020, Justin Wilton (Cinephile Studios) was ripping the Blu-ray of the movie for his review until he found the Seth Green audio in the language files and posted it on Soundboard.
  2. There is very little world building, which leaves more questions than answers, despite the higher budget.
  3. Extremely highly uncanny and awful designs for the characters, like the Martians looking more human than the actual humans, with one exception, even for ImageMovers standards.
    • Speaking of the Martians, their designs are oddly sexual with characters like Ki having unusually large rear ends and wide hips.
    • Milo looks and sounds too old to be a 9-year-old and his mother sounds too old to be a mother of a 9-year-old. Not helping is the aforementioned Seth Green mocap for the former.
  4. Several characters are underdeveloped as well as mediocre and uninteresting, which don't leave any impact. The only one that does is the Supervisor, who is a stereotype as Martian's main antagonist, whereas the other characters can only be described as these:
    • Milo's mother as the typical domestic mother with no depth.
    • Gribble as the lonely orphaned with a help of Milo.
    • Milo as the rebellious brat son main protagonist of the movie (see pointer #9).
    • Ki as the kind Martian hero.
    • Milo's dad is only seen at the beginning and the end.
    • Two-Cat as the robot spider-cat.
  5. Because of the poor and cringe animation, the action-packed sequences are very poorly done, messy, and terrible.
    • There is nothing interesting or exciting about them, and they are rather forgettable and pointless.
  6. Although not really hatable characters, the problem with Gribble and Ki is that they have pointless and clichéd relationship sub-plot that severed no purpose to the actual story.
  7. Many unfunny, obnoxious, weak, and lame attempts at humor that barely get a laugh. (e.g. Martian hatchling peeing on the Supervisor in the end credits and Cujo vomiting, though we don't see it on-screen, thankfully.)
  8. The Martians have no subtitles, even when Milo is wearing a translator.
  9. Milo, the main protagonist, is extremely unlikable and a spoiled brat and his voice by Seth Ducky is very aggravating, irritating and annoying. To add insult to injury, he also has no personality other than enjoying zombie movies.
    • Even after this rancid line, all he does throughout the movie is constantly state the obvious and spout random nonsense to the point where its debatable whether or not he can be considered a character.
  10. Numerous scenes that go on for far too long.
    • For example, when Milo tells his mom that he doesn't want a mother, she looks sad and shocked and the scene holds for too long. The same thing applies with Number 8.
  11. Laughable and poorly-written dialogue; particularly the infamous aforementioned scene at the start of the movie, Milo says one line that's so disrespectful and laughable, that you'll hate him (or want him to get comeuppance) throughout the movie: he says "My life will be so much better if I didn't have a mom at all!", which is the most heartless thing a kid could ever say to their own parent. In fact, he looks nothing like his book counterpart. It would've worked better if it keeps the book's appearance in the movie.
  12. Because this movie does the poor job for following the plot of the book of the same name, such as the changes, it is highly unoriginal and poorly-execution story as it feels more like it copied other alien invasion movies.
  13. The film itself is very forced political agendas, sexist, and racist towards the male Martians, as the Martian female babies are currently raised by nanny bots in the technologically advanced society, while the male babies are sent down below to be raised by adult male Martians. This would feels like it make the movie blatantly misandrist, feminist and propaganda movie.
    • They also have a very absurd and idiotic reason for this, as it's been revealed that they sent the males down below was because they were "too emotional".
  14. Several errors, like Milo's Mom told him that cats are not supposed to eat vegetables. Cats can actually eat some vegetables like cooked/steamed broccoli and some others.
    • There are also errors in the film like Milo's weight was less on Mars than Earth, which would be correct. However, when Gribble and Ki are on Earth, their weight should be higher than on Mars - by a factor of approximately three. This would have made it impossible for them to walk or really move around at all.
  15. Massive loads of unnecessary and unneeded filler and padding.
  16. The Supervisor is a dull and lame antagonist that added in the cast, with incredibly petty and lazy motives, and only has a few comprehensible lines near the end of the film, even in instances where her dialogue should technically be understandable to Milo and the audience, compared to Metal Beak from Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, who is actually very threatening and excellent antagonist. Also, similar to The Ant Bully and The Lorax, she is only in the movie so the writers should find an excuse to make the book into a film.
    • Speaking of Legend of the Guardians, the changes may be dislike from some fans of the book, but at least it tries to follows the storyline of "The Capture", "The Journey" and "The Rescue", while this movie isn't.
  17. Tons of unnecessary pop-culture references that don't fit in a PG rated movie, like how Gribble mentions The Terminator and Top Gun, or even how Milo mentions the Nintendo Wii.
  18. Forced whimsical moments like when Milo is amazed by all of the worlds of trash he sees. PhantomStrider says for Top 10 Worst Disney Movies: It's-it's not even whimsical! Why is there whimsical music playing!? It looks like he's standing in the fires of Hell! How is this even remotely whimsical?!
  19. Mediocre morals that horribly botches, especially that cats can eats human food, such as broccoli where it makes them sick.
  20. With a title as childish as Mars Needs Moms, its surprisingly very unpleasant and dark. Like how the scenes where the Supervisor holds the blaster showing a "target lock" on the child's head, which can be frightened for target audiences.
  21. Lazy directing of Simon Wells, who created the Time Machine and better movies, like The Prince of Egypt.
  22. The film has a poor grasp of the source material it is based on as it makes several questionable changes.
    • The book shows that Milo has a younger sister when in the film he does not have any siblings at all and is an only child.
    • They way Milo gets punished that causes him to disown him mom is also different. In the book he gets sent to his room for bathing his sister with purple dye and making a mess in the laundry room while doing it. In the film he gets sent to his room for refusing to eat his broccoli, feeding it to his cat, and then lying about it.
      • The scene where Milo rejects his mother is also different. The way Milo does it in the book is more understandable and not as disrespectful as he says “I sure don’t see what’s so special about mothers” while crying in his bedroom and the book elaborates that Milo does not understand why Mothers are special in the beginning. The film however has Milo continue to misbehave in his bedroom and he back talks his mother by infamously saying “my life would be so much better if I didn’t have a mom at all”. Comparing these two lines, Milo’s rejection of his mom is way more rude and disrespectful than it is in the book.
    • Milo is depicted in the book as a mischievous but insecure boy of around 5 to 6 years old who feels unloved by his mother and did not fully understand the responsibilities a mother had towards children. He is also more sympathetic in the book. The film however take a lot of Milo’s redeeming qualities away, taking away his insecurities but leaving in the mischievous part of him then aging him up to 9 to 10 years old and depicting him as a lazy, spoiled, and rebellious brat.
    • The way Milo’s mom is depicted is also different. In the book, she is initially depicted as an overbearing and unreasonable mom who treats her kid like a slave and makes him not only take out the trash and eat his veggies but also do garden work. In the film she is more laid back as she only makes Milo take out one bag of trash instead of a mountainful and unlike the book, she does most of the housework instead of making Milo do it as she is seen doing laundry and using a vacuum cleaner around the house.
    • It is shown in the book that Milo and his family own a dog as a pet but in the film, they are shown to only own a cat named Cujo. This change only seems to exist as an attempt to justify the scene where Cujo vomits the broccoli Milo fed him and get Milo in trouble in the process as dogs are known to eat broccoli as long as it is not seasoned. However as explained earlier, cats are also capable of eating broccoli, making this change completely unnecessary.
    • The martians have silly character designs in the book as they are all presented as aliens who are bald and have blue, pink, and green skin. The film though takes all that color away to depict them as bland and weirdly faced beings.
  23. The premise about aliens needing women on Mars is unoriginal, since Mars Needs Women already had that before.
  24. It's pretty much the reason why Disney killed ImageMovers Digital as a company, as the disaster performance of this film, along with the poor box-office performance of the studio's previous film, A Christmas Carol (which was released a year and four months prior to this), led to the cancellation of many projects with Disney, including the Yellow Submarine remake and the Roger Rabbit sequel.
  25. On that note, in a similar manner to Batman & Robin and The Last Airbender, this movie is also notorious for ruining the reputations and, to a lesser extent, careers of people who were involved in the movie (e.g. Seth Dusky and Elisabeth Harnois), due to the film's negative reception and failing at the box office, as well as killing off the studio ImageMovers Digital (mentioned above).

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Despite still being bad, the ending was very heartwarming.
  2. Continuing from #8, at least Milo apologized to his mom for what he said to her earlier, but that still doesn't excuse the overly long sad mom scene. Then again, he did say he was sorry for everything that was wrong with him, so at least he's not completely heartless.
  3. Gribble's design is actually pretty good.
  4. Gribble being quite an expressive character, can have his comical to funny moments due to his voice inflections.
  5. The scene were Milo's mother wakes up after being rescued, notice her surroundings and then screaming to "wake up" is admittedly a funny scene.
  6. The soundtrack is at least great by John Powell.
  7. The voice acting is at least decent, namely Dan Fogler.
  8. The backstory of Gribble's bad childhood was very touching.
  9. While stilted and awkward, the animation is realistic and is pretty good in some scenes, like it was taken from a video game cutscene.
  10. Gribble (if annoying at times, but still forgivable), Two-Cat, and Ki are quite likable characters.
  11. It has a good and solid message about respecting your parents (even for some of its contradictions).
  12. Decent visual effects for the most part.
  13. Some funny moments, like Gribble pressing the wrong button.


Critical response

Mars Needs Moms received mixed-to-extremely negative reviews from critics and audiences alike who praised voice acting, visuals, and John Powell’s soundtrack, but criticism its writing, premise, character expressions, and drama. Opinions of the motion capture animation were mixed. Some praised it for looking realistic and others criticized it for falling into the uncanny valley and looking creepy. It is considered one of the worst Disney animated films. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 37% approval rating with an average rating of 5.00/10 based on 116 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "The cast is solid and it's visually well-crafted, but Mars Needs Moms suffers from a lack of imagination and heart.". On Metacritic, the film had a score of 49 out of 100 based on 22 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale. By Letterboxd, the film collected 1.9/5 score.

Box Office

Mars Needs Moms was a huge box office flop, and the worst financial loss for a Disney-branded film. It earned $1,725,000 on its first day, for a weekend total of $6,825,000. This is the 22nd-worst opening ever for a film playing in 3,000+ theaters. Adjusted for inflation, considering the total net loss of money (not the profit-to-loss ratio), it was still the fourth-largest box office failure in history. In 2014, the Los Angeles Times listed the film as one of the most expensive box-office disasters of all time. 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 unoriginal premise, 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." It was the second and last film from ImageMovers Digital before the company was shut down by Disney, and reverted to simply ImageMovers. ImageMovers Digital had previously been reported to have Calling All Robots, a Yellow Submarine remake, a Roger Rabbit sequel, and The Nutcracker in development. Disney dropped all of these projects following the box-office failure of Mars Needs Moms, and shut down the studio, like said before. In fact, even Zemeckis was free to greenlight the remake of Yellow Submarine to other studios, but he gave up after that.



  • Just like A Christmas Carol, It is one of Disney’s only CGI animated films without mh:greatestmovies:Walt Disney Animation Studios or mh:greatestmovies:Pixar.
  • The failure of this movie was the reason for the "of Mars" being dropped from John Carter's title.[2]
  • As mentioned above, this movie is infamous for being a huge box office disaster, and also one of the biggest box office bombs in history. This was one of Disney's biggest flops along with John Carter.
  • According to actress Brie Larson, she auditioned for the role of Ki.[3]
  • Seth Green described doing the motion-capture as physically demanding work: "A lot of running, jumping, falling, hitting, spinning. I wore a harness for, like, 85 percent of the movie. It was uncomfortable." 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 12-year-old newcomer Seth R. Dusky.
  • Due to this film's failure, Seth Dusky, Milo's voice actor, hasn't acted or starred in another film or had any major roles in other projects. For the remainder of his career, he shifted to doing mostly additional voices and ADR voiceover for the feature films: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Hop, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Ice Age: Continental Drift, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. His last acting role to date was guest starring in an episode of the short-lived Nickelodeon sitcom Wendell & Vinnie in 2013. Mars Needs Moms was Dusky's only project to date in which he had a major role. It's safe to say that this film had likely wrecked Dusky's career as an actor.


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