There’s nothing remotely original or inventive about this Sci-fi comedy in which Aliens bent on destroying the human race invade the Maine vacation home of an upper class suburban family, but the 8 year olds at which it’s aimed will lap it up. For everyone else, this 86 minute, slapstick-laden time waster is a real chore to sit through. Distributor 20th Century Fox did not preview this for critics and has limited expectations for what is bound to be a short box office life on the express lane to a more promising DVD afterlife.
The Pearson Family head off on summer vacation with Dad (Kevin Nealon) and Mom (Gillian Vigman) dragging along their brood. The group includes reluctant teen Tom (Carter Jenkins), his boy-crazy sister Bethany (a bikini-clad Ashley Tisdale), cousin Jake (Austin Robert Butler) and younger sister Hannah (Ashley Boettcher) along with Bethany’s obnoxious and horny boyfriend Ricky (an amusing Robert Hoffman) plus Uncle (Andy Richter) and Grandma (Doris Roberts), among others. In no time, the kids discover a quartet of “evil” aliens on the roof who announce they are bent on zapping humans. Of course, just like in most films of this ilk, the adults are totally clueless while the kids, led by Tom, take on the invaders with all the gusto of Luke Skywalker. Their cause is helped when they are befriended by the one alien in the bunch who promotes a policy of peace.
Much of the comedy comes at the expense of Hoffman’s doofus boyfriend who, early on, becomes the victim of the aliens’ space age controller (which looks like the prop department got it straight out of a Playstation 3 box) that can manipulate physical and mental behavior. Hoffman’s wild contortions had the young tykes in our audience convulsing with laughter. Oh well, as Woody Allen would say, “Whatever Works.” Unfortunately, in an age of such sophisticated CGI-assisted special effects, the actual aliens that have been cooked up here look like something out of a bad ’50s Martian movie and their unfunny dialogue doesn’t help. The bulk of the film contains lots of frantic action, alien vs. teen battles and even one rip-roaring fight with Granny.
Performances are strictly by the numbers, but Tisdale is nice to look at and may draw some High School Musical fans just by her prominently located name on the ads. Hoffman gets the laughs, which is probably why producers tacked on an added scene as end credits start just to milk more of his dopey antics.
After the abysmal I Love You, Beth Cooper, this mindless programmer won’t revive Fox’s early summer momentum ( Wolverine, Night At The Museum 2 ) but for its target pre-pubescent audience, its still a harmless diversion as the dog days of August convene.
20th Century Fox
Cast: Carter Jenkins, Ashley Tisdale, Kevin Nealon, Gillian Vigman, Doris Roberts, Andy Richter, Robert Hoffman, Tim Meadows and Ashley Boettcher.
Director: John Schultz
Screenwriter: Mark Burton and Adam F. Goldberg
Producers: Barry Josephson
Genre: Sci-fi comedy
Rating: PG for action violence, some suggestive humor and language.
Running Time: 86 min
Release Date: July 31, 2009