Review: Mars Needs Moms


Director:Simon Wells

Cast:Seth Green, Dan Fogler, Joan Cusack, Elisabeth Harnois

Running Time:88 Minutes


Mars Needs Moms is my first foray into
the 3D realm since How To Train Your
Dragon and I admit I was a little skeptical.  The trailer was brutal, it had little recognizable talent
attached to it (Seth Green and Joan Cusack aren't going to get me in line for a
movie) and quite frankly, it's fair to say that we don't expect much from an
animation studio these days if that studio's not Pixar.  So it was nice to be surprised by this
quirky picture.

Mars Needs Moms is immediately something
different: the imagery on display here (see A
Christmas Carol and Beowulf for
examples) is visually stunning.  From the film's dizzying opening to its deep-red vision of
Mars to the colorful, exciting conclusion, it's a feast for the eyes.  As for the characters and animation,
I've never seen motion capture look so good. For about half the movie, I was
almost convinced Gribble (played by what looks here like John Candy's ghost,
Dan Fogler) was shot live-action into a digitally animated film.  He looks that convincing.

The story's pretty
standard "kid movie" stuff and the actors certainly don't get a lot of help
from a script riddled with clichéd dialogue.  There are a couple dramatic moments that ring true, but the
story as a whole is a little too rooted in sentimentality to really pull your
heart out when it needs to most.  There's
certainly nothing here that rivals the dump scene from Toy Story 3 or the montage from Up,
but Mars Needs Moms won't be the
worst kids movie released this year. 
And although it's early, this film may in fact be among the prettiest
animated features come December.



About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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