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August 18, 2022

Movie lines – Mars Needs Moms

Quirky kids movie uses realistic motion capture
Disney again showed off its state-of-the-art motion capture
technology with its latest animated film

Mars Needs Moms.

The technology is the same motion-capture technique first used
by Disney in 2009’s

A Christmas Carol.

The result is that the characters in the animated film look
eerily like their real-life counterparts. Milo is played by Seth
Green, but voiced by Seth Dursky, and the red-headed kid on screen
has a lot of the same facial characteristics as Green. Milo’s mom
is played by Joan Cusack and the animated character looks just like
Cusack, but minus a few facial lines. The result is that the
characters on screen seem to have much more realistic expressions
of emotions.
Quirky kids movie uses realistic motion capture

Disney again showed off its state-of-the-art motion capture technology with its latest animated film “Mars Needs Moms.” The technology is the same motion-capture technique first used by Disney in 2009’s “A Christmas Carol.”

The result is that the characters in the animated film look eerily like their real-life counterparts. Milo is played by Seth Green, but voiced by Seth Dursky, and the red-headed kid on screen has a lot of the same facial characteristics as Green. Milo’s mom is played by Joan Cusack and the animated character looks just like Cusack, but minus a few facial lines. The result is that the characters on screen seem to have much more realistic expressions of emotions.

“Mars Needs Moms” is based on a children’s book by Berkeley Breathed, a political cartoonist who created “Bloom County,” but also wrote books for a younger audience. I haven’t read the original book, but I have read Breathed’s comic strip and there is a little bit of that satire in the script. Simon and Wendy Wells adapted the book for the screen, with Simon Wells also directing the film.

The story is simple and it’s one that’s been told before, but not in quite the same way. Milo’s mom is a good mom – she’s strict when she needs to be, but compassionate at the same time. When Milo’s dad has to stay away on business and Milo is clearly disappointed, she tells Milo he can stay up late to watch a movie on pay-per-view if he eats all his dinner. But the meal includes broccoli so he doesn’t want to finish it off. He finds a solution in feeding the vegetable to the cat when his mom is not looking.

But when the cat later throws up the green stuff, his mom sends him to bed without watching the movie. Milo is angry and in his anger he says he would be better off if he didn’t have a mom. As it turns out, some Martians happen to agree with him. They’ve been watching from afar, looking for a strict mom.

Once every 25 years, Martian hatchlings pop up out of the ground like potatoes. The Martians have developed a system where the hatchlings are raised by nanny bots, but the nanny bots only last for one cycle and then they fall apart because it’s so hard to raise the baby Martians. When the next batch of hatchlings come around, the new nanny bots have to be programmed. To program them, the Martians extract the memories from the perfect earth mom.

Of course, it is the night that Milo says he would be better off without a mom that she is abducted by the aliens. He wakes up as it is happening and stows away on the spaceship. He doesn’t know what the aliens are up to at first. He finds himself in prison and escapes with the help of Gribble (Dan Fogler,) a human who claims he was part of a secret mission from the Reagan era. He lives under the surface of Mars, in a trash heap, where he has created a state-of-the-art videogame system. He plays videogames and watches TV all day. His only companions are a robotic pet and a Martian he calls Wingnut (Kevin Cahoon,) who is almost like a pet, too, because he is so dumb.

Gribble knows what the Martians are up to with Milo’s mom, but he doesn’t tell Milo the whole story of what will happen to his mom when they extract her memories. Instead, he offers to help Milo find his mom, but with an ulterior motive. He dresses Milo in a Martian costume and sends him into their main base. The Martians are divided into two groups – the females are organized and work hard inside the base. They are led by the supervisor (Mindy Sterling,) who is tough and no-nonsense. She is the one who picks out the strictest mom to program the nanny bots. But under the surface of the base, living in a trash heap are male Martians, who hug, dance and play. They don’t speak much and as Gribble says at one point, they are dumb as a box of rocks. It is the female Martians who have Milo’s mom and who he has to outsmart. As he sneaks into their base in a costume, Gribble is hoping he ends up in trouble so that Gribble can save Milo and get Milo to stay with him forever.

The two end up with an unlikely partner in Ki (Elisabeth Harnois,) a female Martian who has learned English from watching a bad sitcom set in the 1960s. She helps Gribble and Milo, in the process learning a secret about ancient Martian culture that the supervisor has been keeping from everyone.

The story is a fun one, and the movie is engaging enough for adults and kids. Adults should stick around for the credits, in which footage from the stop-motion capture is displayed. It was interesting to watch the actors against the animated scenes and see how closely their expressions matched up. The movie is showing in 3-D and also in 2-D. There weren’t many 3-D elements that wowed to justify the extra money. See this movie in 2-D.

Melissa Flores
A staff member edited this provided article.

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