By Adam Donato
First things first, there is something to be said about the idea of a target audience. If a movie works and appeals to a demographic then there is some value in that. That appeal is concretely measured through the box-office. Say what you want about Transformers, they make a lot of money. That being said, just because a movie can be made for a certain younger demographic doesn’t make it better because the bar is lower. Pixar is great in part because their movies are made for children, but appeal to adults. The problem with Mars Needs Moms is that it appeals to nobody, like Cats!
Where would Hollywood be if it wasn’t for the occasional disasterpiece? Everyone has blindly gone into a movie that’s so bad and so weird that they question how it ever got made in the first place. Just shy of a decade after Mars Needs Moms, the film community was exposed to the depths of Cats! A movie that truly appealed to nobody. It’s too creepy and sexual for kids. It’s also too silly for adults. That being said since Mars Needs Moms is animated, one would say that the clear target audience is children. Of course, children can’t go to the movies alone, so they are usually accompanied by (you guessed it) their moms. The problem is that, like Cats, Mars Needs Moms is one of the most horrific displays of CGI ever seen in theaters.
How did this happen? Robert Zemeckis, who is undoubtedly one of the best filmmakers of his generation, loves to push the technological boundaries of filmmaking. It’s almost painful watching the behind-the-scenes footage in the credits because it’s clear how much effort was put into just shooting the movie alone. I’m sure they didn’t show footage of the animators animating because it was probably full of swearing. How is it that the aliens look more lifelike than the humans? That isn’t a compliment to the aliens either, who look like E.T. when he was dying in a ditch. A great deal of attention is given to the production design, but the movie looks hideous. It’s so dark and creepy, and when there are moments of color, it looks gross. This is a movie meant for babies and half of the time it looks like the set of Aliens.
The cast is a whole situation itself. So Seth Green did the motion capture and voice for the main child in the movie. There’s even promotional footage of the movie where one can hear his voice. For the final cut of the movie, they decided to dub the character with an actual 12-year-old boy. It’s clear to see why they pushed so hard for Seth Green since the rest of the cast is Joan Cusack, Dan Fogler, and Elisabeth Harnois. Cusack kills it as always. Harnois is an actress that has been in projects of note? Fun fact, Brie Larson auditioned for Harnois’s role. Fogler is fantastic as always. That’s right. Demean him with the "discount Jack Black" insults all you want. The Balls of Fury and Fanboys star is most notable probably for his inclusion in the Fantastic Beasts movie (which he was the best part of btw). He has so much energy, comedic talent, and personality. It’s a shame not to see him in more things. He’s the best part of the movie by far.
For what it is, the story works. Now the whole concept of Martians abducting mothers so they can program their nanny bots (not positive that’s correct, but if any die-hard Mars Needs Moms are upset then sorry) is insane and this should not have been made for theaters. That being said, the kid going from being annoyed by his nagging mother to appreciating her after his journey is solid. Folger’s character redeeming himself by guiding the kid and saving his mother, but ultimately deciding to stay on Mars works. It’s not much, but when you’re analyzing what is considered to be one of the worst movies of all, it’s fair to give it whatever credit it can get. The plot suggests the movie has something to say about men, women, and their role in raising children, when in fact the movie has nothing to say besides “moms are good.”
Does Mars Needs Moms deserve to be remembered? As a goof, sure. Play a drinking game with your friends and drink every time someone says the word “mom”. To the ambitious filmmakers out there looking to push the boundaries of technology in movies, watch and take notes on what not to do. Nobody needs to see Mars Needs Moms, but for fans of the disasterpiece, enjoy the IMDb trivia about what a disaster the production, marketing, and reception of this silly movie.
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The Snake Hole
Retrospectives, opinion pieces, awards commentary, personal essays, and any other type of article that isn't a traditional review or interview.