Aliens in the Attic (2009)

Home invaders…

Modern childrens’ films often have a difficult time blending the colourful action necessary to hold the kids’ attention and the moral core essential to make their parents happy; hitting on the winning formula can prove to be absolute box office gold, as demonstrated by the behemoth that is High School Musical. Despite starring HSM’s Ashley Tisdale, Aliens in the Attic won’t come close to achieving that level of success thanks to its struggles to combine edgy CGI adventure with a sugary message of tolerance and the importance of family ties, it does enough to keep its target audience of the under-10s entertained.

Fifteen year-old Tom (Carter Jenkins) is struggling to fit in with his classmates thanks to his above average IQ and geeky interests, and is taking his frustrations out on his family. His despairing parents decide to take Tom and his sisters Hannah (Ashley Booettcher) and Bethany (Tisdale) on vacation to an isolated farmhouse, where they are joined by Tom’s grandmother, uncle and cousins. What starts out as a boring holiday for Tom soon takes a turn for the bizarre, however, when the kids discover their attic is being overrun by invading aliens. Banding together, they must rid the house of the pesky extra-terrestrials before they can summon the rest of their species – and before their parents find out what’s going on.

Play Aliens in the Attic Clip 1: Slap Happy

The majority of Aliens involves the kids creating various weapons to take on their ET squatters; potato guns, remote control cars and the like are all utilized in the fight for control. And of course the little green men also have tricks up their sleeves, such as an implant that turns anyone it touches into a zombie, easily controlled by a handheld device. Cue much computer game-inspired fights, including a particularly memorable Streetfighter-esque scuffle involving Tom’s aged granny (Doris Roberts) and Bethany’s boyfriend Ricky (Robert Hoffman). All totally ridiculous, of course, but the kids sitting in front of me were having an absolute blast throughout.

Play Aliens in the Attic Clip 2: Anti Gravity

And that, of course, is what Aliens in the Attic is all about. Adults in the audience may shake their knowing heads at the implausible plot, the cliché-ridden narrative and hokey morality lessons but John Schultz has certainly not made this film for them. It’s aimed squarely at the kids, who are likely to love its energy, humour and, in particular, loveable alien Sparks (voiced by Josh Peck). As a piece of cross-generational cinema, Aliens falls rather flat but as a dedicated children’s film released into prime school holiday territory, it does exactly what it says on the tin.

Play Aliens in the Attic Clip 3: Save the World
Play Aliens in the Attic Clip 4: Granny

Play Aliens in the Attic Featurette

2.5 stars

Stars Ashley Tisdale, Carter Jenkins, Austin Butler
Director John Schultz
Screenplay Mark Burton & Adam F Goldberg
Certificate PG
Distributor 20th Century Fox
Running Time 1hr 26mins
Opens August 12

20th Century Fox have teamed up with The Children’s Society and Ebay UK to launch the Celebrity Attic Amnesty Auction. Read more…