ALIENS IN THE ATTIC
*** (out of 5)
July 31, 2009
Ashley Tisdale as BETHANY PEARSON
Robert Hoffman as RICKY DILLMAN
Austin Robert Butler as JAKE PEARSON
Doris Roberts as NANA ROSE PEARSON
Gillian Vigman as NINA PEARSON
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: John Schultz
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Sometimes movies surprise me. “Aliens in the Attic” was one of those movies. It’s not that I found it to be any different from what I expected. Rather, it surprised me because of how much I liked it, considering it was everything I prepared myself for.
The film is a rather silly story about a family that rents a country house in northern Michigan for vacation. When the kids in the family start exploring the house, they discover a group of tiny but menacing aliens that have landed and have plans for taking over the world. Soon, the kids discover that the aliens’ mind-control devices do not work on kids, they take it upon themselves to thwart the invasion plans.
Silly, right? You’d think I’d cringe through the entire film.
However, when you become a parent, the way you view films change. My two oldest sons have reached an age where I can take them both to a variety of films, and they accompanied me to see “Aliens in the Attic.” Watching this movie was like watching “Alvin and the Chipmunks” a few years back. It’s decent enough, but as a bonding experience with my kids, it was great.
It also helps that the film is not completely inaccessible to the grown-up audience. Running a very digestible and merciful 90 minutes, “Aliens in the Attic” is short-attention-span theater for the kids and adults. And this is a good thing, considering the plot is pretty shaky, the characters are underdeveloped and the special effects really aren’t that good, considering it’s a major studio release.
Part of the film’s charm, at least for me, was the similarity this film has to the bevy of 80s flicks about little creature attacks. So much of this movie reminded me of “Gremlins,” “Ghoulies,” “Critters” and even the uber-cheap knock-off “Munchies.” (The film even goes as far to have the “Ghoulies” signature shot with the creature popping out of the toilet.) None of these films were great feats of cinema, but I have very fond memories watching them in the theater or on home video. It was your basic cinematic diet of a fifteen-year-old kid in the 1980s.
There are also some nice on-screen appearances from people I though t had disappeared from the Hollywood scene, including SNL alums Kevin Nealon and Tim Meadows, along with a bit part by Andy Richter that should be good for a few chuckles.
Boiled down to its basic elements (which doesn’t take long, mind you), “Aliens in the Attic” is geared directly for a child audience. Young kids and teenagers should eat up the story about children that get a chance to save the world. With its relatively safe PG rating, “Aliens in the Attic” also lends itself to soccer moms dropping their kids off at the theater themselves, and it will make a decent Friday night pizza movie for the family.
What makes the film work is the copious amounts of slapstick comedy, often at the expense of Robert Hoffman, who plays Ashley Tisdale’s on-screen boyfriend. He gets a chance to shine with an eerie Jim Carrey quality to himself. Throw in some ninja fighting between him and Doris Roberts, and you have a ridiculously fun action sequence.
I wouldn’t recommend this film to anyone over the age of fifteen who isn’t trying to relive their youth from the 1980s. let’s face it, this flick isn’t made with you in mind. But if you want to have fun with the kids in the theater – and you’ve already taken them to see “G-Force” in 3D – you can give “Aliens in the Attic” a try. You might just have some fun.