Mars Needs Moms

Mars Needs Moms

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Simon Wells
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Simon Wells
  • Wendy Wells
Based on Mars Needs Moms!
by Berkeley Breathed
Music by John Powell
Cinematography Robert Presley
Edited by Wayne Wahrman
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • March 11, 2011 (2011-03-11)
Running time
88 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $150 million[1][2]
Box office $39 million[1]

Mars Needs Moms is a 2011 American 3D motion capture computer-animated science-fiction comedy film based on the Berkeley Breathed book of the same title. The film is centered on Milo, a nine-year-old boy who finally comes to understand the importance of family, and has to rescue his mother after she is abducted by Martians. It was co-written and directed by Simon Wells. It was released to theaters on March 11, 2011 by Walt Disney Pictures.[3] The film stars both Seth Green (motion capture) and newcomer Seth Dusky (voice) as Milo. This was the last film by ImageMovers Digital before it was absorbed back into ImageMovers.[4] The film grossed $39 million worldwide on a $150 million budget.


Unbeknownst to humans, there is a thriving, technologically sophisticated society of Martians living below the surface of Mars. The Martians Supervisor (Mindy Sterling), while observing Earth, sees a mother (Joan Cusack) persuading her son, Milo (motion by Seth Green, voice by Seth Dusky), to do his chores. The Martians decide to bring her to Mars, where her "momness" will be extracted and implanted into the next generation of nannybots. Meanwhile, Milo, who doesn't like following the house rules and doing chores, tells his mother in anger that his life would be better without her, breaking her heart.

Later that night, Milo goes to apologise, but discovers his mom is being abducted. He runs after her, but they end up in separate parts of the Martian spaceship. On Mars, Milo is taken to an underground cell. He escapes and is chased by Martian guards, but he follows a voice that tells him to jump down a chute, and lands in a lower subterranean level. There, he sees a trash-covered landscape that is inhabited by furry creatures.

Milo is whisked away by the creatures to meet Gribble, a.k.a. George Ribble (Dan Fogler), the childlike adult human who had told him to jump down the chute. Gribble explains to Milo that the Martians plan to extract Milo's Mom's memories at sunrise, using a process that will kill her. Gribble, who is lonely and doesn't want Milo to leave, pretends to help Milo rescue his mother, but his plan goes awry leading to Gribble being captured and Milo being pursued by Martian guards.

Milo is rescued by Ki (Elisabeth Harnois), one of the supervisions who raises Martian babies. Milo tells her about his search for his Mom and what a human relationship with a mom is like, as Ki and her kin were mentored by only nannybots and supervisors and don't know of love.

Milo returns to Gribble's home but finds him missing. Gribble's robotic spider, Two-Cat (Dee Bradley Baker), takes Milo to the Martian compound where Gribble is being prepared for execution. Milo is captured by the guards, but Ki tosses him a laser gun, allowing him to escape.

Milo and Gribble retreat to an even lower uninhabited level, where, Gribble explains his Mom's abduction and murder by the Martians 25 years earlier. Gribble blames himself for her being chosen, and regrets that he hadn't been able to save her. Milo convinces Gribble to actually help him just as Ki finds them. They discover an ancient mural of a Martian family and realize that Martian children weren't always raised by machines. Gribble explains that Martian female babies are currently raised by nannybots in the technologically advanced society, while the male babies are sent down below to be raised by adult male Martians, which are the furry creatures he encountered earlier.

Milo, Gribble, and Ki save Milo's Mom just before sunrise, causing the energy of the extraction device to short out the electronic locks to the control room. This lets the adult males and babies enter, where they run amok, attacking the guards and robots.

Milo and his Mom steal oxygen helmets and try to escape across the Martian surface, but the Supervisor causes Milo to trip and his helmet shatters. His Mom gives him her own helmet, saving Milo but sacrificing herself. The Martians are awed, as this is the first time they have seen love.

Gribble finds his own mother's helmet, and gives it Milo's Mom, saving her. Ki brings a ship for them to escape in, but the Supervisor intervenes. Ki argues that Martians were meant to be raised in families, with love, but the Supervisor insists that the current situation is better, because it is more efficient. The guards decide to arrest the Supervisor because they prefer the loving vision of family-life. The other Martians celebrate.

Milo, his Mom, Gribble, Ki, and Two-Cat travel to Earth. Gribble decides not to stay, because he wants to pursue a relationship with Ki on Mars. Milo and his Mom return to their house just before Milo's Dad (Tom Everett Scott) comes home.



Simon Wells had known Zemeckis since the mid-1980s when he was supervising animator and storyboard artist for Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He also worked on Back to the Future Part II and III and later worked on The Polar Express, which was why he was attracted to making Mars Needs Moms.[6] The production designer was Doug Chiang, and the supervising art director was Norm Newberry.[7] The title of the film is a twist on the title of American International Pictures' 1966 film Mars Needs Women. 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 11-year-old actor Seth R. Dusky.[5] The makers came up with their own alien language.[8] Elisabeth Harnois stated in an interview that she and the cast were given scenarios by Wells to which they acted out responses in improvised Martian language.[9]


Critical response

Mars Needs Moms received generally unfavorable reviews upon critics. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 37% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on reviews from 111 critics, with an average rating of 5 out of 10. The critical consensus reads "The cast is solid and it's visually well-crafted, but Mars Needs Moms suffers from a lack of imagination and heart."[10] Metacritic assigned an average critical score of 49 out of 100 based on 22 reviews.[11]

Box office

Mars Needs Moms was a box-office failure and has the worst financial reception for a Disney-branded film. It earned only $1,725,000 on its first day, for a weekend total of $6,825,000.[12][13] This is the 15th worst opening ever for a film playing in 3,000+ theaters.[14] Even adjusted for inflation, considering the total net loss of money (not the profit to loss ratio), it was still the fourth largest box office bomb in history.[15][16] In 2014, the LA Times listed the film as one of the most expensive box office flops of all time.[17] 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 subject (a mother kidnapped from her child), 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."[18]

Home media

The film was released on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and movie download on August 9, 2011.[19][20][21] The release is produced in three different physical packages: a 4-disc combo pack (Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and "Digital Copy"); a 2-disc Blu-ray combo pack (Blu-ray and DVD); and a 1-disc DVD.[20][21][22] The "Digital Copy" included with the 4-disc combo pack is a separate disc that allows users to download a copy of the film onto a computer through iTunes or Windows Media Player software.[20][21] The film is also a movie download or On-Demand option. All versions of the release (except for the On-Demand option) include the "Fun With Seth" and "Martian 101" bonus features, while the Blu-ray 2D version additionally includes deleted scenes, the "Life On Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience" feature, and an extended opening film clip.[20][21] The Blu-ray 3D version also has an alternate scene called "Mom-Napping", a finished 3D alternate scene of the Martian abduction of Milo's Mom.[20][21][23]


Mars Needs Moms
Soundtrack album by John Powell
Released March 3, 2011
Recorded January 7, 2011
Genre Film soundtrack, film score
Length 1:26
Label Walt Disney
Producer John Powell
John Powell chronology
Knight and Day
Mars Needs Moms

The film's score was composed by John Powell. The soundtrack was released by Walt Disney Records on March 3, 2011.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Mars Needs Moms (2011)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  2. Kaufman, Amy (March 10, 2011). "Movie Projector: 'Battle: Los Angeles' will rule, 'Mars Needs Moms' will bomb". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  3. Stewart, Andrew (March 9, 2010). "Disney sets date for 'Mars'". Variety. Retrieved March 10, 2010.
  4. Finke, Nikki (March 12, 2010). "Disney Closing Zemeckis' Digital Studio". Retrieved November 21, 2010.
  5. 1 2 Kaufman, Amy (March 8, 2011). "Seth Green moves, but doesn't speak, in 'Mars Needs Moms'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
  6. Webb, Charles (August 9, 2011). "Interview: MARS NEEDS MOMS Director/Writer Simon Wells". Twitch Film. Retrieved February 25, 2012.
  7. Loewenstein, Lael (March 8, 2011). "Review: 'Mars Needs Moms'". Variety. Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  8. "Mars Needs Moms - Productions Notes". Retrieved February 24, 2012.
  9. "Mars Needs Moms Interview - Elisabeth Harnois". Trailer Addict. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
  10. "Mars Needs Moms". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  11. "Mars Needs Moms Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  12. Young, John (March 13, 2011). "Box office report: 'Battle: Los Angeles' conquers all with $36 mil". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
  13. Lumenick, Lou (March 14, 2011). "Box Office: 'Mars Needs Moms' a megaton bomb". New York Post.
  14. "Worst Openings at the Box Office for 3,000+ Theatres". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
  15. Ben Riley-Smith (March 21, 2011). "'Mars Needs Moms': does flop mean 3D is history?". Retrieved July 31, 2011.
  16. McClintock, Pamela (March 14, 2011). "Why Disney's 'Mars Needs Moms' Bombed". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
  17. Eller, Claudia (January 15, 2014). "The costliest box office flops of all time". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  18. Barnes, Brooks (March 14, 2011). "Many Culprits in Fall of a Family Film". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  19. "Mars Needs Moms Blu-ray 3D Release Date and Pre-Orders". The HD Room. May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
  20. 1 2 3 4 5 Gallagher, Brian (May 6, 2011). "Mars Needs Moms 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD Arrive August 9th". MovieWeb. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 "Mars Needs Moms 2D and 3D Blu-rays". May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
  22. DuHamel, Brandon (May 7, 2011). "Mars Needs Moms Travels to Blu-ray, 3D and DVD in August". Blu-ray Definition. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
  23. "'Mars Needs Moms' Lands on Disney 3D Blu-ray/DVD on August 9; Includes 3D Exclusive Bonus Scene". Stitch Kingdom. May 6, 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2011.

External links

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