The moral of the story is that all children should appreciate their moms. While it is an important message for kids this is not the film that is going to change the way kids treat them moms.
Mars is a planet that is severely lacking in mothers. To rectify this problem they abduct human mothers and use them to program nanny-bots to raise infant Martians. The Martian Supervisor (voiced by Mindy Sterling – How the Grinch Stole Christmas – 2000, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) and Ki (voiced by Elizabeth Harnois – A Single Man) are using video to look at potential candidates. After not being impressed by the first couple of moms they come upon a mom (Joan Cusack – Working Girl, Toy Story 3) who seems to be raising her son, Milo (Seth Green – from television’s Family Guy), with some discipline. They send a ship to Earth one night to abduct Mom.
That evening Mom and Milo have had a fight and he is feeling guilty about something he said so he cannot sleep. In the middle of the night Milo decides to go to his Mom’s room to apologize to her. Once there he doesn’t see his Mom, but does see some bright lights shining. Milo follows the lights to find the Martians in the process of bringing his sleeping Mom to their ship. He tries to stop them, but cannot, though he does manage to sneak aboard the ship.
Once on Mars Milo runs into another human named Gribble (voiced by Dan Fogler – Kung Fu Panda, Balls of Fury), who lives in the garbage dump area of the planet. Gribble tells him all about the Martians lack of moms and their plans for Milo’s Mom. Realizing that what the Martians plan to do will kill his mother Milo vows to stop at nothing to rescue her and bring her back to Earth.
Another Robert Zemekis-style (he is a producer on the film) motion capture film that tries its hardest to make animation look real. The human actors in the film had sensors all over their bodies and actually acted out the film against a green screen. The film technology wizards then took this data to construct the animation. Make sure you watch the credits at the end of the film to see footage of how this was done as it is quite interesting for the adults/film buffs in the audience. All the technology involved really makes it a worthwhile film to see in 3D as it is not intrusive and adds much to the viewers’ enjoyment of the film. Though I still argue that the human figures in these types of films are scary with their dead eyes and waxy skin.
With all the manpower and technological skill that is put into films like this I wonder why not a bigger effort is put into the stories and scripts? Time and time again it has been proven that no matter what kind of technology or acting skill you devote to a film if the story ain’t good then you are sunk. Really you could put the Muppets up on the screen (maybe that is what Jason Segal is doing with the upcoming Muppet film) and as long as the story is good then the film will be good. But if you invest millions of dollars into making the animation look lifelike, but precious little into script development then your money has been wasted.
As a result “Mars Needs Moms” is a rather uninspired film. It is not horrible nor is it memorable. Parts of it are very rushed. Why do the Martians live underground? Why is it a female only society? Why have all the male Martians been banned to live in the garbage dump? It is almost as if the makers of the films thought that story development be damned. These details and story development issues would have led to a well rounded story. What we do get is a rush, cursory look at Martian society and the story of a boy trying to rescue his mother.