Mars Needs Moms is a 3D computer-animated sci-fi adventure comedy film directed by Simon Wells (the great grandson of H. G. Wells) and based on a book of the same title by Berkeley Breathed. The film is centered around a nine-year-old boy who after being grounded, realizes he was wrong to be rude to his mother, and has to rescue her after she is abducted by Martians. It was released on March 11, 2011 by Walt Disney Pictures. The film stars both Seth Green (performance capture) and newcomer Seth Dusky (voice) as the main character Milo, and was the final product of Robert Zemeckis' studio ImageMovers Digital. The title is a twist on the title of American International Pictures' Mars Needs Women (1966).
Mischievous and rebellious nine-year-old Milo (Seth Green, voice-over by Seth Dusky) is just beginning summer vacation, and his father (Tom Everett Scott) is leaving for a business trip. While Milo is wanting his summer to be a fun one, his mother (Joan Cusack) assigns him chores and tasks like taking out the trash. At dinnertime, Milo is given broccoli. His mother has a "no broccoli, no TV" rule which Milo cleverly evades by feeding the broccoli to his pet cat. When Milo's mother finds the cat throwing up from the broccoli, she grounds him and sends him to bed early. After a heated disagreement with his mother, Milo wishes that he never had a mom. Later that night, his wish comes true when his mother is abducted by Martians who plan to steal her "momness" to rear their own young. Milo's quest to save his mom involves stowing away on a spaceship, navigating an elaborate, multi-level planet and taking on the alien nation and their leader, the Supervisor (Mindy Sterling). With the help of tech-savvy subterranean-dwelling earthling Gribble (Dan Fogler), his bionic underground pet Two-Cat (Dee Bradley Baker), and rebellious Martian Ki (Elisabeth Harnois), Milo finds his way back to his mom.
The Martians are born from the ground every five years. By an automated process, robots separate the males from the females. The males are cast into the garbage dump (where they live a primitive existence). Each female is placed in the care of a nanny robot. Each batch of nannies requires an earthling mother to provide their maternal programing. The process which will download each mother's memories results in her death. The females are raised by the robot nannies to join a highly regimented matriarchal society; highly technological and free of physical affection. The Supervisor constructed this society to be freed from the burdens of child rearing.
At the beginning of the film, Martians observe Earth mothers, passing up those who are too indulgent or unable to control their children. They select Milo's mother based on her ability to command Milo to take out the trash. Upon arrival on Mars, Milo is locked up in a jail cell, but manages to escape down a garbage chute where he meets Gribble. Gribble helps him devise a plan to save Milo's mom and get her back to Earth before Earth's night is up. Unfortunately, the plan goes awry at a Martian checkpoint, when Milo is exposed and the troops raid Gribble's hideout, but Milo is able to escape. While hiding from the guards, Milo runs in to Ki, whose been spraying graffiti in the form of flowers throughout the underground city, having been inspired by a 1960s Earth TV show. Once Milo makes it back to Gribble's hideout and discovers the truth about Gribble's name (being George Ribble), Gribble confesses to Milo on how he wound up on Mars: twenty five years ago, back in the 1980s, the Martians selected Gribble's mother as a fine example to program their nannybots. Like Milo, Gribble stowed away, but failed to rescue his mother in time and was stranded on Mars ever since, but finding company in the form of a male Martian and robot.
After Ki manages to locate Milo and Gribble in an untouched part of the Martian underground world, they come across an ancient cave painting that showed Martian families were like Earth families in the past. After evading the guards and capturing a spaceship, Milo manages to wake up his mother, and save her before the download destroys her, but in the process of escaping out onto the Martian surface, Milo trips and breaks his space helmet. As Milo begins to choke in the unbreathable Martian atmosphere, Milo's mother gives him her space helmet. Although Milo's life is saved, the life of his mother has now been put at stake. Before the eyes of the Martians, Gribble (not wanting to see another Earth boy lose his mother) manages to find the space helmet he'd attempted to save his mom with and gives it to Milo's mother, showing the Martians the one thing they'd overlooked about Earth moms: love for their children, in which Milo apologizes to his mother about the disagreement. Afterwards, just as it looks like the Supervisor will recapture the Earthlings, Ki reveals the photo of the ancient cave painting and the Supervisor's deception to the soldiers, causing them to turn against the Supervisor.
With the Supervisor in prison, Ki and Gribble return Milo and his mother to Earth, just before Milo's dad returns home. Having nowhere else to go and having exposed feelings for Ki, Gribble decides to stay on Mars and returns there. Milo then takes out the trash before his mother asks him to, but secretly disintegrates it with a Martian weapon. Under the new leadership of Gribble and Ki, the male and female Martians work together in raising their young, while the Supervisor is stuck with nanny duty. Gribble manages to contact Milo and let him know how he is by using the Spirit rover as a communication station.