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Movie Review: Aliens in the Attic (PG)

Alien Nation of Affections

Beats a sharp stick in the eye. Probably.

By Rachel Wallace

If you’re looking for a summer kid’s blockbuster that you will also enjoy, this most likely isn’t it. But at only 85 minutes long, it beats the heat or the rain midday on a Tuesday when there’s nothing else to do. It will keep kids entertained, but 48 hours later I’m not even sure they’d remember much about the movie. Bonus – not a lot of merchandise to buy!

Aliens in the Attic opens as many family movies do – the kids are in varying stages of rebellion, from flunking school to sneaking out, and the parents decide that a good old-fashioned family vacation is just the right dose of medicine to get their lives back in order. They join some of their extended family at a gorgeous lake house in Maine. A predicted meteor shower crash-lands aliens who want to take over the world onto the roof , and from there the plot begins. Sort of.

The story itself is fine, but the major problem the movie runs into is that it’s like a 45 minute game of tug-o’-war where the rope never moves and nothing ever happens. No one gets ahead, there’s really only one “close call,” and it makes for a very long standoff. Ground is gained in the last 20 minutes, but it feels like it takes forever to get there. There’s just simply nothing all that “new” about it. The filmmakers don’t even rip off the good stuff from older movies.

The movie takes on the attitude that kids are awesome! And can fix big problems! And we don’t need the parents! This is a pretty common theme as of late. Between this and using CGI as much as possilbe, whether it makes sense or not, the movie fits in well with the current fad-films which include Hotel for Dogs, Monsters vs. Aliens, and I’m sure the upcoming Shorts. The kids have to save the oblivious parents because only they know how, which is another common theme. With very clear good vs. bad characters, it makes the movie extremely easy to follow and understand; a plus for the younger crowd.  

Adults will find it pretty boring, though. There’s enough slap-stick humor to keep kids entertained, but the dialogue is pretty poor and the CGI is worse with the exception of an anti-gravity scene. A few of the actors do deliver notable performances, including Robert Hoffman (Step Up 2 the Streets), Doris Roberts (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) and Tim Meadows (Mean Girls and “SNL”).  The child actors all take on the Disney approach to acting, which … isn’t exactly a compliment. It’s not overly engaging but it is certainly over the top. Hoffman is definitely the actor to pay attention to in the movie. Though he doesn’t have many credits to his name yet, he has a great natural talent for beating himself up and physical humor.

There is virtually no foul language except for one or two ‘shut up’s. Actually in the beginning Ashley Tisdale’s character starts to say “I’m going to kill you” to her brother, but it is conveniently covered by a car horn which I thought was clever and happens a few more times. There is only one steamy kiss (on a tv), but other than that the characters keep getting interrupted just as they are about to lock lips. Violence level is moderately high, and I say that mostly because a lot of guns are pointed at people, from bubble to paint ball to mind-control rays. Characters are shot, but none are wounded. As I said, there is plenty of slapstick comedy to go around, but except for the occasional crotch shot it’s pretty mild.

I have certainly seen worse movies. There were a couple memorable moments, but for the most part we’ve all seen this movie at least twice before in varying forms. While it’s really the only slightly promising kids’ release this week, I think it’d be worth waiting for Shorts on August 7. So unless you’ve really just run out of things to do, I’d skip this one. Or make someone else take the kids.

Previews included Shorts, Bandslam, Post Grad, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

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