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|Aliens in the Attic
dir John Schultz
scr Mark Burton, Adam F Goldberg
prd Barry Josephson
with Carter Jenkins, Austin Butler, Ashley Tisdale, Ashley Boettcher, Robert Hoffman, Henri Young, Regan Young, Doris Roberts, Kevin Nealon, Andy Richter, Gillian Vigman, Tim Meadows
voices Thomas Haden Church, JK Simmons, Kari Wahlgren, Josh Peck
release US 31.Jul.09, UK 12.Aug.09
09/US Fox 1h26
Home invasion: Jenkins, Butler and friends
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
High energy levels and some genuinely hilarious set pieces make this kids' alien-invasion romp a lot more fun than expected. It's not, erm, rocket science, but it's a thoroughly entertaining ride from start to finish.
Tom (Jenkins) is a surly teen who's a lot smarter than his grades indicate. But his parents (Nealon and Vigman) plan to whip him into shape with a family fishing holiday with sisters Bethany and Hannah (Tisdale and Boettcher) plus cousins (Butler, Young and Young), a goofy uncle (Richter), sassy Nana (Roberts) and Bethany's smarmy too-old boyfriend (Hoffman). At the isolated lake house, the kids discover that they're under siege from pint-sized aliens. And without letting the grown-ups know, they set out to foil the invasion.
The film is pure pre-teen fantasy, as the children save the day through sheer ingenuity and a lot of whizzy gadgets they grab from the invaders. The grown-ups never have a clue what's going on, and this is only partly due to the drone darts shot into some of them (they won't work on children). This allows the kids to actually make the grown-ups do things that are even more ridiculous than they usually do, the high point being a remote-controlled super-fighting ninja Nana.
Yes, it's thoroughly silly, but the script never tries to be anything else. There's a certain deranged internal logic at work, so the film hangs together unusually well for a Hollywood action caper. Even though some characters get lost now and then, they eventually return in scenes that let every cast member do something truly cool. Tisdale and Hoffman vanish for large chunks of time, but really throw themselves into the comical mayhem, as do all of the actors.
It helps that the characters are genuinely likeable--even the hilariously ugly little aliens, who bicker and do stupid things just like the adults. It's far too cute and crazed for late-teens to give it the time of day, but younger children will love this, right up to the sweet E.T.-light finale, complete with the requisite message about having the courage to be yourself. And adults will be surprised that they like it too, although most would never admit it.
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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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