A funny thing happened on the way to the theatre this morning–and before you stop me, no, this will NOT turn into a Zero Mostel reference. I guarantee it. Anyway, I was on my way to catch the very first showing of a movie so I could bring it back here to you.
I wanted The Collector.
I got Aliens in the Attic.
I know, I know–it’s all about managed disappointment, folks, and ironically, that’s also what Aliens in the Attic is about: managed disappointment.
Anyway, the plot. It’s your class-X standard family movie fare–youngest daughter is here for no other reason than to be cute, supersmart middle boy child feels alone and neglected and starts tanking his grades so he can fit in better because “no one likes a mathlete”, Dad’s trying his bumbling best to keep up, oldest daughter’s dating a guy roughly four years older than she is but no one actually knows until he actually starts telling people. Anyway, this Seventh Heaven episode gone ever so slightly off the rails packs up for a family vacation to Middle of Nowhere, Michigan. It’s actually something involving the word “creek” but I just didn’t care enough to pay that close attention and you won’t need to either. When they get to the rental home where the obnoxious other half of the family is also heading, they find a little surprise waiting for them.
Yep, seems the Zirconian Empire wants to annex Earth, and has thus sent a self-important halfwit, a psychotic weapons expert, a female martial artist who’s clearly overcompensating and a sensitive engineer who, in earth years, acts like he’s TWELVE to pave the way for the incoming invasion force by activating a device that’s been buried underground for decades. Oh, and did I mention that the Zirconians are only about one tenth the size of an average human?
Let me just say, up front, that unless you have kids this movie will be an utter waste of your time. Some children’s fare–especially the good stuff–is made accessible to adults by virtue of so-called “dual layer” writing, in which jokes that work for kids also work on adults on a totally different level, using things like clever double entendres and careful wordplay.
Aliens in the Attic, meanwhile, has all the wordplay of a brick.
This is a kiddie movie, plain and simple. Anyone under, oh, fourteen or so is going to absolutely fall in love with it. They’re going to love the thought of using mind control on Nana and having her execute Street Fighter moves (even I was impressed by watching Doris Roberts pulling off a Shoryuken), and the thought of hijacking their sister’s jerk of a boyfriend and making him slam into his own car and confess to his girlriend’s parents that he desperately needs a new set of adult diapers. But most grownups, meanwhile, are going to find the jokes lame and tedious, with not a whole lot of laughs available for them. The comedy here is weak if you’ve graduated high school any time recently.
Like I said, folks, it’s all about “managed disappointment”, which is just what Aliens in the Attic is. There’s some fun here, and some interesting moments, but there’s also a whole lot of kids-only stuff in between the interesting moments, a whole lot more than you’d want to personally hazard unless you’re taking the kids out to the movies.
Thus, the Screenhead Ten Scale issues it a five out of ten for doing its job and doing it well, but not doing much more than the minimum. Some great moments for grownups here can’t distract from the fact that this is, first, foremost, and mostly, a kid’s movie.