You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mars

In space, everyone can hear you mumble, but they may not be that interested.

With:
With: Mark Duplass, Zoe Simpson, Michael Dolan, Cynthia Watros, Paul Gordon, Howe Gelb, Liza Weil, James Kochalka, Kinky Friedman.

In space, everyone can hear you mumble, but they may not be that interested. That’s at least one message in “Mars,” a quirky animated mumblecore sci-fi comedy in which the astronauts on the first manned mission to the red planet fret more about their lovelives and TV ratings for their live transmissions than about the risk of death. Feature debut for Texan shorts-maker Geoff Marslett is likably sweet, but the script suffers from the effects of zero gravity. After finishing its orbit around the fest circuit, “Mars” should land in arthouse venues, and may achieve minor cult status on ancillary. Action takes place mainly in 2015, perhaps too near into the future to be believable, and posits revitalized space programs operating in Europe and the U.S. The European Space Agency sends up an artificially intelligent robot, ART, to look not only for life on Mars, but also for the Beagle 2, the real-life probe that went missing in 2003. Meanwhile, NASA sends a three-person crew on a separate mission, consisting of inept but telegenic Charlie Brownsville (mumblecore icon Mark Duplass, “The Puffy Chair,” “Humpday”), idealistic scientist Casey Cook (Zoe Simpson) and laconic mission leader Hank Morrison (Paul Gordon). On Earth, ground control commands are issued by snarky Shep (indie singer-songwriter Howe Gelb), while cheering from the sidelines comes courtesy of the president (musician-writer and would-be politician Kinky Friedman). While Charlie chats regularly via satellite hook-up with a couple of bimbo VJs (resulting in some particularly flat satire of celebrity culture), those back home fail to take much interest in the crew’s adventures in space. That’s not so surprising, given how little really happens until attraction sparks between Charlie and Casey, and a collision with asteroids requires some proper heroics. Action on the fourth planet from the sun proves a bit more interesting, as ART encounters local life forms, revives and falls in love with Beagle 2, and even has amusing dreams (in binary code, no less). The film would rep little more than a pallid, fitfully amusing low-budget skit if it weren’t for the fact that it’s all animated. Using a souped-up contempo version of rotoscoping similar to the medium used for Richard Linklater’s “A Scanner Darkly,” pic features live-action thesps who have been digitally colored in and dropped into entirely drawn environments; result has the garish, pop-art look of a graphic novel come to life. The style is stimulating enough to distract from the script, but not always flattering to the characters, as it distorts features and leaves them painted in peculiar hues. Soundtrack features work by Gelb and his band, Giant Sand; contributions by Neko Case, Kristin Hersh and others further enhance the generally lo-fi hipster atmosphere. Other tech credits are serviceable.

Mars

Animated

Production: A Swerve Pictures, Filmscience, CineFont and Self-Assembly Films production. (International sales: the Film Sales Co., New York.) Produced by Anish Savjani, Robert Howell, Javier Bonafont, Geoff Marslett. Executive producers, Robert Howell, Geoff Marslett, Jeff Cassler, Sue Cassler, Cindy Marslett, Charles Marslett. Directed, written by Geoff Marslett.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Jason Eitelbach; editor, David Fabelo; music, Howe Gelb; production designers, Marslett, Tracy Duncan; costume designer, Vanessa Nirode; sound designer, Robert Kellough; animation, Self-Assembly Films, Swerve Pictures; associate producers, Melanie West, Vincent Savino; assistant director, David Hartstein. Reviewed at London Film Festival (World Cinema), Oct. 16, 2010. (Also in SXSW Film Festival.) Running time: 81 MIN.

With: With: Mark Duplass, Zoe Simpson, Michael Dolan, Cynthia Watros, Paul Gordon, Howe Gelb, Liza Weil, James Kochalka, Kinky Friedman.

More Film

  • 'Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation' Tracks

    'Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation' on Track for $40 Million-Plus Opening

    In space, everyone can hear you mumble, but they may not be that interested. That’s at least one message in “Mars,” a quirky animated mumblecore sci-fi comedy in which the astronauts on the first manned mission to the red planet fret more about their lovelives and TV ratings for their live transmissions than about the […]

  • Actor Johnny Depp poses for photographers

    Johnny Depp: Rolling Stone Profile Latest Sign Actor Is PR Liability

    In space, everyone can hear you mumble, but they may not be that interested. That’s at least one message in “Mars,” a quirky animated mumblecore sci-fi comedy in which the astronauts on the first manned mission to the red planet fret more about their lovelives and TV ratings for their live transmissions than about the […]

  • Film review: Budapest Noir

    Film Review: 'Budapest Noir'

    In space, everyone can hear you mumble, but they may not be that interested. That’s at least one message in “Mars,” a quirky animated mumblecore sci-fi comedy in which the astronauts on the first manned mission to the red planet fret more about their lovelives and TV ratings for their live transmissions than about the […]

  • Johnny Depp

    The Most Shocking Revelations From Johnny Depp's Rolling Stone Interview

    In space, everyone can hear you mumble, but they may not be that interested. That’s at least one message in “Mars,” a quirky animated mumblecore sci-fi comedy in which the astronauts on the first manned mission to the red planet fret more about their lovelives and TV ratings for their live transmissions than about the […]

  • Film Director Diversity Report: DGA Says

    Feature Film Director Diversity Remains Low, Directors Guild Reports

    In space, everyone can hear you mumble, but they may not be that interested. That’s at least one message in “Mars,” a quirky animated mumblecore sci-fi comedy in which the astronauts on the first manned mission to the red planet fret more about their lovelives and TV ratings for their live transmissions than about the […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content