I was ready. I had my mind wrapped around the notion that we were going to see Aliens in the Attic. Like a gut punch that I knew was coming I steeled myself to roll with it to lessen the damage. But then, the clouds parted and the sun came out! The suggestion was made by my wise neighbor that we take the kiddos to see Planet 51 instead. Sure it's not in the dollar cinema yet but it's a matinee and it's only a couple of bucks more so why not?
Granted, Planet 51 is also a "little green alien" movie but it's all computer animated instead of CGI mixed with live action like Aliens in the Attic. But does that make it better? In this case, boy howdy YES! Wait, wait, I'm not really being fair. I haven't actually seen Aliens in the Attic so it's not really an informed decision to call it out for the cowpie-esque stinker of a movie it appears to be in it's own trailer. Don't believe me? See for yourself and click on the link (below) to see said trailer, if. you. dare! Well now, on to the movie we did see.
Planet 51 is a pleasant little summertime kids movie that doesn't try too hard to elicit any emotions one way or another from the audience. Eye candy but the sugar-free type to be sure. Let me explain. Justin Long is "Lem" who is a young adult resident of "Planet 51" just getting his legs in the grown-up world by striking out on his own, getting his first job, and trying to get the girl "Neera" played by Jessica Biel. You'll remember Justin Long from his "nice-guy Mac" role in the Apple vs. IBM commercials that are just irritating enough to make my ears bleed. Just as Lem (get it? Lem, like the Lunar Module from the Apollo space missions? See, it's funny because... aw, skip it.) is trying to get a date with Neera she gets distracted by the local hippy-dippy protest guru who wants to protest something so the plot of this movie will do just fine for him.
The movie is set in a 1950s era America even though it's on another planet. So I guess that makes the hippie alien a beatnik. Along comes an alien spacecraft landing in the middle of little green suburbia! The spacecraft is modeled after a Lunar Module (a Lem or LM. Lem, get it? the main charact... aw, skip it.) and out comes Chuck Baker, Astronaut played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and hilarity ensues. Now we add an angry General (Gary Oldman), a military made out to be bumbling fools (I know, SURPRISE!), and a dissection-eager scientist (John Cleese). Move on to chase scene, media misunderstanding, chase scene, noble sacrifice, some shooting, chase scene, happy ending.
I called it a "Summer Movie" earlier. By that I mean a movie that has a lot of outdoor activity scenes and is usually released in the big summer movie watching season. You know, people wearing summer clothes, barbecuing, lots of sunshine and plenty of scenes with long shadows, usually a buddy movie. This led me to believe that it was intended to be a summer release when it was made but someone who makes those decisions thought it wasn't quite up to snuff. That's why it was released in November. This reminded me of a conversation I had with my brother some years ago when I wondered out loud why a particular Disney animated cow movie was released in the spring time. He opened my eyes to the fact that many stinker movies that don't go directly to video are released before peak times to go ahead and let them slide through the theaters before they release the movies they think will really be the summer or Christmas season money-makers.
Overall not a bad movie. It shouldn't be long before it gets to the real dollar cinema but I'm not disappointed I didn't wait. The kids liked it enough but they didn't ask me to go to Burger King to get the kids meal toys anymore after the movie. That tells me they weren't excited about it any longer but weren't dissatisfied with it either.
Planet 51 trailer
Aliens in the Attic trailer
Disney animated cow movie trailer