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
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.