STARRING: Ashley Tisdale, Robert Hoffman,
Carter Jenkins, Austin Butler, Ashley Boettcher, Henri Young, Regan Young, Tim
Meadows, Gillian Vigman, Kevin Nealon
2009, 86 Minutes, Directed by:
A group of children attempt to defend their Maine vacation home from invading
extraterrestrial forces as the malevolent aliens make their way from the upper
floor of the house to the ground level. John Schultz directs a script penned by
British scribe Mark Burton (Wallace & Gromit). High School Musical's Ashley
Tisdale stars in the 20th Century Fox production, with Tim Meadows, Kevin Nealon,
and Gillian Vigman filling out the cast.
Aliens in the Attic is a DVD babysitting tool that was
somehow granted a theatrical release. It's not all that loathsome, just
remarkably unremarkable; a lively war of the worlds diversion with plenty of
spunky special effects, gratuitous slapstick, and Ashley Tisdale parading around
in a bikini for all the dads out there. It's something bright and flashy to rest
eyes upon for 85 minutes, but I can't imagine anyone emerging from a showing of
this thing proclaiming it to be a summer 2009 highlight.
Reluctant to join a weekend vacation with his family, Tom
Pearson (Carter Jenkins) is stuck with concerned parents (including Kevin Nealon),
a bratty older sister (Ashley Tisdale) and her conniving boyfriend Ricky (Robert
Hoffman), a weary grandmother (Doris Roberts), and members of his extended
family (including Andy Richter and Austin Robert Butler). There's also another
problem: aliens have crashed into the attic and they're looking to take over the
human race. While the parents don't seem to notice anything wrong, Tom and the
other kids team up to defend their home from the tiny green menace, while one
alien, Sparks (voiced by Josh Peck), befriends the gang, hoping to convince his
fellow creatures that peace is an option.
"The kind of pap that the average family would be better off
waiting for a DVD release . . ."
Aliens in the Attic feels like an invasion comedy left
over from Spielberg's multiplex reign of the 1980s. It's a plastic, hollow
creation that shuns any sort of dramatic vigor, preferring to offer up some
frantic antics to please children. There's nothing wrong with playing directly
to the target audience, but filmmaker John Schultz (The Honeymooners,
Like Mike) doesn't pass along a needed sense of merriment in his direction,
only paycheck obligation. His dead-eyed work is felt throughout the film,
straining to make the cutesy screenplay by Mark Burton and Adam F. Goldberg come
alive with a few lobs of wit and some parents-only humor (a rotary phone gag
will surely elicit laughs).
Aliens is primarily here to make noise and stay
frenzied enough to keep little minds invested. Schultz stages big waves of
slapstick, most framed around the idea that the aliens can manipulate Ricky with
an intergalactic gaming controller, which promptly falls into pre-teen human
hands. Aliens gets a lot of mileage out of the gag, and bless his heart,
Hoffman commits entirely to the torture, slamming his body around like the
runaway RC car his character has become. The video game textures pop up
frequently throughout the film, including a mid-movie Street Fighter
battle between Granny Pearson and Ricky, and a brief bit of business that has a
Nintendo DS able to detect the aliens' language.
Schultz doesn't push matters too strenuously, preferring to
stay in a safe zone with established dollops of physical comedy and CG-enhanced
shenanigans. There are scenes here and there that struck me as adequately
inspired, but the rest of the film is routine, flavorless pap. Not offensive
pap, but the kind of pap that the average family would be better off waiting for
a DVD release before viewing.