From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Friday, July 31, 2009

Aliens in the Attic - D+

Rated PG for action violence, some suggestive humor and language, 86 minutes

Even kids may not enjoy the inane, dumb "Aliens in the Attic"

Generally when films don't get an advance screening for critics, it often means the film isn't any good and/or its studio has no faith in it. That was probably the case with the new kids film "Aliens in the Attic," a dumb, contrived and mean-spirited but fast-paced fantasy-adventure where most of the action takes place in one central place: upstairs. Most of the film is ridiculously laughable even for something like this, in spite of the presence of "High School Musical's" starlet Ashley Tisdale, the only real draw for the film, and she can't act. (Guess this is what she gets for acting in a non-Disney film.)

A bickering, dysfunctional family heads to their wooded summer house for vacation. Teens Tom (Carter Jenkins) and Bethany (Ashley Tisdale) barely speak to each other, and when they do, it's usually to insult each other. Along comes cousin Jake (Austin Robert Butler), Nana (Doris Roberts ) and Uncle Nathan (Andy Richter) not to mention Bethany's older jerk boyfriend Ricky (Robert Hoffman) who obviously has Bethany's dad (Kevin Nealon) fooled. The kids discover some little green aliens who use the attic to map out their plot to overtake the world, but not if the kids can help it, who must somehow keep all of this from the clueless adults.

"Aliens in the Attic" is modestly enjoyable and energetic kids flick, but they'll be amazed at how dumb this movie is. It's an interesting premise, but the fact that most of the action takes place inside the house is a plot contrivance that never really works well. The CG aliens are ugly, stupid and in no way lovable or funny, though that may be the real point. They have ambitious plans to take over the world but can't get out of the dern house to do so. Heck, they can fly. Forget the kids and on to bigger things. Much of the plot shenanigans is really just pointless padding until the muddled, predictable climax. Even at a brief 86 minutes, this seems to go on forever, I'm amazed that the filmmakers were able to get that much out of the thin, tired premise.

What's most unfortunate about this mess of a movie is the fact that it wastes a decent cast, most of whom are experienced comedic veterans. The most memorable is "Everybody Loves Raymond's" Emmy winner Roberts, who gets in a high kick or two at the aliens. The rest of the adults are wasted and mostly stand around baffled (much like the audience), including the likable Nealon, Andy Richter and Tim Meadows, woefully miscast as a sheriff. The kids, most of them unknown, are decent actors who play second fiddle to the cheap, ultra-fakey CG aliens, who aren't integrated into the film well. The only voice of note among the aliens is "Sideways" Thomas Haden Church, normally a funny guy but who phones it in "Aliens."

Tisdale is a pretty young celebrity non-actress and is charmingly empty as the older sister, who's given very little to do but run around in a bikini. That alone should be a draw for the younger boys, who'll mostly forget this mess in a moment. "Aliens in the Attic" isn't recommended and makes the forgettable "G-Force" look like "Citizen Kane." Stay away if at all possible.