After disobeying his mother (voice of Joan Cusack), nine-year-old Milo (voice of Seth Dusky, performance capture by Seth Green) isn’t allowed to watch his favourite TV program and is sent to bed. He says to his mother, ‘My life would be so much better if I didn’t have a mom’. Later Milo goes to his mother’s room to say sorry, but discovers Martians in the process of kidnapping her. Milo chases the Martians and ends up as a stowaway on the Martian spaceship.
When the ship reaches Mars, Milo finds that the planet is ruled by female Martians, who quickly discover Milo and put him in a prison cell. With the assistance of an unseen source, Milo escapes via a garbage chute that leads to a giant Martian rubbish dump. In the rubbish dump live hundreds of Martian males and one human male, Gribble (Dan Fogler). Gribble is a technological genius who has been a castaway on Mars since he came as a boy.
Through Gribble, Milo learns that every 25 years, a batch of Martian babies are born. The males are thrown away, while the females are raised by nanny-bots. These robots are programmed with the memories of a single human mother, which is why the Martians needed Milo’s mom. When Milo learns that the Martians will kill his mother by taking her memories, he enlists Gribble’s help to come up a rescue plan.
Loss of a parent; aliens
Mars Needs Moms contains sometimes intense scenes of family argument, action violence and danger. For example:
- Milo and his mother argue. Following the argument, Milo says, ‘My life would be so much better if I didn’t have a mom at all’. His mother cries.
- A group of Martians in space suits strap Milo’s mother to a stretcher and take her away.
- Several times throughout the movie, Martians chase Milo and shoot laser guns. Green bolts of energy only just miss him.
- A dog-sized droid ties Milo up with a rope attached to a balloon. Milo is dropped from the balloon on to a wooden bridge.
- Milo pinches Gribble’s nipples to force him to do what he wants.
- A group of Martian women with laser guns capture Gribble and blast his house with their guns.
- A Martian firing squad powers up laser guns and aims them at Gribble. Just as the Martians are about to fire at Gribble, Milo swings through the air on a rope. He knocks into the Martian firing squad and sends their guns flying. A friendly Martian manages to catch one of the guns and throws it to Milo, who uses the weapon to blast a hole in the floor and escape.
- After he’s shot at by Martians, Gribble’s hair catches on fire.
- Flashback images of Gribble’s mother show her strapped to a table. There’s a machine with a giant needle-like probe ready to pierce her head. There’s a flash of light and she’s vaporised.
- Milo’s mother is unconscious and strapped to a table and the probe is ready to pierce her head. The machine is fired up and an electrical charge runs down the length of the probe while Milo frantically attempts to free his mother. Milo uses a laser gun to blast his mother’s straps, pulling her off the table in the nick of time.
- A female Martian knocks out two other Martians by injecting them in the back with a tranquiliser.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- There are several scary characters, such as different types of Martians, including hairy ape-like males, armour-wearing guards and robot dogs. The computer-animated humans also have a scary appearance.
- As Milo is dragged up into the Martian spaceship, he shakes and his face goes into strange shapes.
- Milo hangs on by his fingertips to the side of a Martian skyscraper. A bottomless abyss drops away beneath him. Milo falls onto a narrow ledge and then into the abyss, but is rescued by a Martian.
- Gribble gets very upset when he’s forced to remember how Martians killed his mother. Gribble says it was his fault that his mother was killed. The Martians chose his mother because Gribble was a well-behaved child. Gribble is also very upset because he couldn’t tell his mother that he loved her before she died.
- As Martians talk about how to kill Gribble, Gribble stands in front of a wall with the images of other victims etched into the wall.
- After Milo’s mother gives him her helmet, she collapses. Milo holds her in his arms as she gasps for air and passes out. He’s very upset, telling her that she has to come home with him and that he loves her.
Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.
Nothing of concern
This movie has some sexual references. For example, a female Martian, Ki, tells Gribble that she thinks he’s amazing. Gribble blushes. They flirt several times, and Gribble turns red each time. Ki tells Gribble, ‘I dig it when you change colour’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie has some use of substances. For example:
- A recorded image of a 1960s TV show shows two men behaving as if they’re on drugs.
- Ki injects two Martian guards with a tranquiliser. A droid also injects one of the guards with a tranquiliser.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Naked Martian babies have furry bottoms.
- Female Martians wear tight-fitting clothing.
- Gribble and Ki cuddle.
None of concern
This movie has some infrequent low-level coarse language, name-calling and put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Mars Needs Moms is a 3D animated science fiction adventure targeting primary school-aged children. It’s also likely to entertain older viewers. The movie’s animation is based on motion-capture technology, which gives the movie a more realistic appearance. As a result, some of the scary images or disturbing scenes might have a bigger impact on younger children. Also, some of these scenes make it unsuitable for children under seven.
The main message from this movie is that parents love their children unconditionally, even though they have to set guidelines, enforce rules and hand out punishments.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the following:
- Selflessness, courage and bravery – throughout the movie, Milo repeatedly puts his life on the line to save his mother and his friends.
- Perseverance – regardless of the obstacles placed in his path, Milo refuses to give in.
You could also talk about the reasons why rules and boundaries need to be set, and how they give children a sense of security and a safer environment.