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 Written by

MARS (2024)

Release Date: ../../.. [Festival Run]
Genre: Animation. Comedy. Fantasy.

Studio: Midnight Kids Studios. 

[Seen for Tribeca 2024]

"An upcoming animated feature film, written by and starring The Whitest Kids U' Know." 


It’s taken the comedy troupe The Whitest Kids U' Know more than a decade to bring its ambitious animated epic Mars to the big screen. And it does not disappoint. With clear influences from the works of James Cameron and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, as well as the ignorance of Elon Musk, the film not only lives up to the group’s audacious brand of humor. It spins a wildly creative commentary on human connection too.


The story begins with Kyle, a young man who seemingly has his whole life laid out before him. He’s engaged. He’s got a full time job working as a dentist at his future father-in-law’s practice. It’s even established that he’ll inherit the practice in the near future. Still, Kyle is not happy. He yearns for more. But his wedding’s in a few weeks, so he decides to suck it up with the hope that his feelings will go away.


At the same time, eccentric billionaire Elron Branson is holding a lottery to fill out the crew for his upcoming mission to Mars, which will also be a first for mankind. To enter, all you need to do is submit a video explaining why you want to be a part of the mission. One night, after a drunken outing with his best friend, he decides to submit a video for Branson’s contest. Weeks pass, and Branson’s lottery ends. Kyle isn’t picked, so he moves on to reluctantly prepare for his wedding. On the day of his wedding, however, something happens to one of the winners and, in an emergency drawing, Kyle’s name is picked. After a bit of back and forth, he decides to leave his fiance at the altar and go to Mars. What should be his fresh start slowly descends into a new nightmare fueled by several unforeseen circumstances and the crew’s increasing insanity.


Now, that is the PG version of the plot. In the first five minutes of the film it becomes very apparent why The Whitest Kids U’ Know chose the medium of animation to tell this story. Here their creativity really knows no bounds - and that extends to the way their characters indulge in frequent graphic violence, nudity and drug usage. The MPAA is sure to have a fit over the outrageously funny third act alone. Granted there are admittedly some references throughout that feel inserted for shock value. But not even they can detract from the group’s scathing satirization of the upper upper class. 


It was just last year that the world’s attention was seized by the submersible that went missing on its way to the Titanic’s remains. And every few months a new celebrity makes headlines for traveling to space with Virgin Galactic. It’s no secret that the world’s elite are testing mankind’s limits with little to no worry about the ethical cost. No matter how explicit or crass, that concern is prevalent throughout Kyle’s journey. Sure, Branson is able to sponsor a trip to Mars. But as we come to see, just because he has the money to finance humanity’s next step in evolution doesn’t mean he understands the first thing about being human. Conversely, it takes Kyle to travel all those miles from mankind to understand the importance of empathy and why he’s been so unhappy in the first place. 


The film arguably spends too much critiquing humanity that at times it forgets that it’s science fiction. If there’s one thing to critique about the film itself, it’s that it doesn’t lean into its high concept as much as it should. Simply put, the film is still good, but there are just obvious missed opportunities to be even stranger than it proudly is.


Mars is not just a blast(off) from beginning to end, it may very well be the most entertaining animated movie ever set in outer space (sorry, Lightyear). And if the rumors are true that this is the troupe’s “last hurrah,” then they are going out on one hell of a stellar note.


The film is currently screening as a part of the 2024 Tribeca Festival, so be sure to look out for a wider release soon!


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